Lightning strikes are often associated with wildfires and other destructive events, but it appears that they can also create surprising wonders. In some cases, when the electricity drains into the soil, it will generate a burst of extreme heat, leading to the formation of unusual glass formations.
Known in the scientific community as fulgurites, these fascinating patterns have become viral on social media networks. According to one researcher, they tend to be quite abundant across the world, especially in beachside areas.
Lightning strikes can create surprising natural “sculptures” in deserts
However, it is essential to keep a keen eye out when you look at some images since there are tell-tale signs which can be used to trace the real origin of a fulgurite. Many of the fulgurites that are shown in the images are found over the sand as if the lightning strike brought the sand in the air before it melted and became glass. This does not happen in reality as the current will flow through soil or sand, and the creation has to be uncovered naturally by erosion or a team of skilled researchers before it is visible.
The distinctive shape follows the path taken by electricity and can be used by experts to determine the how the climate was in the past. For example, a 250-million-year-old fulgurite found in the Sahara desert suggests that storms used to be quite frequent in the area. Previous research has mentioned that lightning will strike the surface of our planet at least a million times per day.
To create fulgurites, the lightning strikes have to hit the surface with enough power to reach a reasonable depth, and the soil also needs to have specific traits that facilitate the formation process. In some areas, the fulgurites have a length of five meters, which is impressive and dangerous at the same time. Lightning strikes could compromise underground power lines, and many researchers are looking at fulgurites to learn how to prevent dire consequences.