Lena Rocks

Lightning strike crystals

by on Jul.31, 2011, under Crystals, Lemurians, Slideshow blog

We went to a crystal show yesterday and I learned something I had not known about before – about crystals that have been struck by lightning while in the ground.  The vendor had a few that he showed me and they felt just fantastic to me so I had to get myself one.  I also got myself a large Lemurian that has so much Lithium in it that it is very pink and when I examined it later it just happened to have a lightning strike on it as well so I felt like I got the most amazing bonus.

When we came hom I tried to find more information about these crystals but there is not a lot so I am going to have to figure it out for myself.  Some of what I came up with is the following:

For many years, itinerant miners in of the Serra de Espinha?o Mountains of Brazil have reported finding “flash stones” – now demonstrated to be the result of lightning traveling through a quartz crystal while still in the ground.  The Espinha?o range is frequently hit by orographic thunderstorms, which produce the greatest number of lightning strikes.  Interestingly, orographic lightning has some peculiar features:  it reaches velocities of 160,000 m/s (524,934 ft/s), and it achieves plasma temperatures of 30,000°C in nanoseconds.  Evidences of the effect of this special lightning on lightning-struck quartz crystals are the presence of beta-quartz (which only forms at temperatures over 573°C), along with the presence of cristobalite, the high-temperature modification of quartz (which forms at temperatures of about 1,715°C). Also, an enormous pressure of about 35.00 bar (508 psi) is evidence by the presence of coesite, the rare high-pressure polymorph of quartz.  The stress caused by this very rapid heating and cooling, along with the intense electrical charge and the high pressure, creates a characteristic zigzag fracture pattern on the surface of the affected quartz crystals.

Reproducing the effects of lightning on quartz crystals in a laboratory setting has proven to be very challenging.  After exploring a variety of methods to try to reproduce the characteristic patterns, the study concluded that this pattern could not be created by any mechanical process.

At the high-voltage lab at the Technical Institute of Vienna, Austria and at Ilmenau University in Germany, scientists were finally able to match the unique, shallow zigzag lightning tracks on quartz that is the hallmark of lightning struck quartz.  To form these crystals it takes a unique combination of geological, morphological, climatological, and meteorological conditions.  This means that lightning-struck quartz is very scarce, making it a highly valued item for mineral and gem collectors.

Here are some photos of some of these crystals that I took at the show, apologies for the crappy quality but I didn’t bring my good camera:

Go Thor 🙂

Lena


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