When Lightning Strikes Sand, These Incredible Fulgurites Are Made

Mother Nature is capable of producing some pretty interesting things. You only have to watch an episode of David Attenborough to appreciate that. 

However, what may sometimes appear as a truly remarkable piece of nature is actually just human confusion.

For example, this photo was posted to Reddit where users explained that this was “what happens when lightning strikes sand.” While that is believable, it isn’t 100% accurate.

Scientific American

This is actually a man-made creation involving a stick with hand-dripped sand over the top.

But, if you’ve ever watched Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon you’ll know that something incredible does happen when lightning hits the sand.

They are called fulgurites, which do look similar to the viral image but are much smaller.


Cool fulgurite (fused sand) from a lightning strike in Florida. #fulgurite #lightningstrike

Fotografiju objavljuje Jimmy williams (@flintknapperjimmy)

Fulgurites are formed when sand is hit by more than 1,800 degrees Celsius of heat from a lightning strike.

Here’s a visual for you:

They become hollow, glass-lined tubes dusted with a layer of sand.


Every Thursday we invite a cultural figure to share any #object relevant to either their practice or daily life. This week we feature Singaporean artist Robert Zhao: . “This is a Fulgurite I picked up in Changi in the reclaimed land of Singapore in 1995. Singapore gets hit by 186 days of lightning a year. Fulgurites are natural hollow glass tubes often formed during lightning strikes, in quartzose sand, silica, or soil. Fulgurites are formed when lightning hits sand or silica with a temperature of at least 1,800 °C (3,270 °F) melts sand on a conductive surface and fuses mineral grains together; the fulgurite glass tube is the cooled product. This process occurs over a timespan of around one second, and leaves evidence of the lightning path and its dispersion over the surface or into the earth. It is believed that Fulgurites are the lightning rods of the God and carry with them warnings of impending diseasters due to an upset of a natural order.” . #robertzhao #singapore #fulgurite #lightning @robert_zhao ⚡️⚡️⚡️

Fotografiju objavljuje ArtAsiaPacific Magazine (@artasiapacific)

Incredibly fragile, Fulgurites form underground at the site of the lightning strike and only appear at surface level when the sand on top starts to erode.


If the structure in the viral photo was actually a fulgurite, it would have broken down several times before erosion revealed itself. In truth, Fulgurites are usually quite small.


Don’t miss our #fulgurite in store, these amazing crystals are solid lightning. #pagan #crystals #occult #witchcraft #magick

Fotografiju objavljuje The Witch’s Heart (@thewitchsheart)

With very rare, fulgurites are a great example of nature’s power. Some nature-based religions are known to use fulgurites in their rituals.


Like and SHARE this incredible natural wonder.