Q:

What happens when lightning hits sand?

A:

Quick Answer

When lightning strikes sand it melts, or fuses, sand particles together. The National Severe Storms Laboratory notes that when lightning hits the ground, it fuses clay and dirt into silicas, which often results in a glassy, black rock, known as a fulgurite.

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What happens when lightning hits sand?
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Full Answer

Fulgurites are shaped like convoluted tubes, which leave shapes that follow the paths of lightning currents where they entered the ground. This results in fulgurites, which is a Latin word for lightning rocks. When lightning hits a tree and travels down the trunk, water below the bark converts into steam. If this steam reaches under the bark’s surface, the steam expands at a rapid rate and is able to blast out particles of bark, which often kills the wood in its path.

Lightning can benefit the Earth in a number of ways; one of the most important being that lightning is able to assist the Earth in maintaining its electrical balance. The Earth receives a recharge from thunderstorms. The atmosphere and the surface of the Earth conduct electricity readily as the atmosphere is charged positively and the Earth negatively. Without lightning and thunderstorms, the electrical balance in the Earth’s atmosphere would disappear. In addition to the above, lightning contributes to ozone-producing chemicals.

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Related Questions

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    Where does lightning originate?

    A:

    Lightning can originate within a thunderstorm cloud and from the cloud to the ground. Intra-cloud lightning is basically a large spark of electricity that occurs between the positive and negative charges in the cloud with the air working as an insulator. Cloud-to-ground lightning works in the same way, the difference being that one of the charges is located in the cloud and another on the ground.

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  • Q:

    How can lightning affect you?

    A:

    According to Katherine Neer of HowStuffWorks, there are several ways a person can be affected by lightning, each with different impacts. Direct strike, wherein a cloud-to-ground lightning directly hits a person or something he is holding, is the most fatal. In this case, the full impact of lightning courses through the person’s body.

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  • Q:

    How fast is lightning?

    A:

    A bolt of lightning travels at approximately 224,000 miles per hour or approximately 3,700 miles per second. Lightning is a discharge of static electricity that has accumulated as a result of collisions between ice particles in storm clouds.

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  • Q:

    How far can lightning travel?

    A:

    The longest lightning bolt ever recorded traveled a distance of 118 miles. The average length of most lightning strikes is said to be only six miles, although bolts have been known to travel up to 50 miles away from their parent storm.

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