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When lightning hits sand a Fulgurite forms

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By Suzanne Leonard
Weather Broadcaster
@SuzanneTWN
Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 12:11 PM

Watching lightning can be mesmerizing. A single lightning bolt contains an immense amount of power. It creates a spectacular image against a dark sky. But did you know that lightning can also create amazing objects?


SCIENCE BEHIND THE WEATHER: Have you ever heard a volcano scream?


When lightning hits sand, if conditions are just right a Fulgurite forms. The outside usually looks like an odd shaped sandy rock, but the inside is a hollow tube of smooth glass. Lightning causes the sand to become instantly "super heated," which changes it into hollow glass tubes. As the lightning follows a downward branching path, a Fulgurite can be several metres long. Although because they're so fragile, many of those found are quite small.

Fulgurites have been found around the world. So next time you're walking the beach, be on the lookout for "petrified lightning"-- when lightning turns sand into glass.

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