Finding Fulgurites

Finding Fulgurites

I have looked and looked for fulgurites with no success up to this point in time. One of these days I am going to find a beautiful specimen. Sadly, I have probably been in the vicinity of this elusive creature without knowing it was there. Have you ever seen one? Do you know what a fulgurite is? I call this a creature because the Creator of the heavens and earth makes fulgurites in the most facinating way. If you know something about Latin you might have guessed. “Fulgur” means lightening.

When lightening strikes sand or certain kinds of rocks the heat melts the material in its path. When the melted material solidifies it creates a permanent record of the passing of the lightening. When the lightening strikes the dunes the loose sand around this “tube” can be blown away to expose the fulgurite.

Fulgurites are like tubes of the finest blown glass, and just as delicate. A kind and helpful naturalist from the Indiana Dunes National Park allowed me to examine closely several specimens that were discovered there. The outside had a bubbly gray look. It felt like sandpaper because sand grains were imbedded in the outside of the tube, which was an inch or less in diameter and thin as paper. The inside is smooth and rippled glass. Apparently, the lightening hits the ground and melts its way deeper and deeper. Then, it seems to shrink slightly as the molten glass solidifies. The fulgurites resemble two to three foot long icicles with a similar meandering shape. The diameter is typically from one half to two inches, which the scientists say is the size of a bolt of lightening. I expected lightening to be much larger.

Because they are so fragile, fulgurites are usually broken when they are found. Sometimes they can be dug out and preserved by working very carefully. They are so fragile that they disappear when they are blasted by the blowing sand. They can be broken like a fragile glass Christmas ornament. Perhaps you can now understand how difficult it is to find fulgurites in the dunes. I wonder if I walked over them in years past before I knew they existed? One of these days I hope to find a beauty! Until then, I’ll keep looking.

My family wonders what I would do with a fulgurite if I did find one. (Kind of like the dog finally catching the car he has been chasing.) Admittedly, part of the fun is the chase. The thrill of discovery would be exciting, too. My intention would be to put my discovery in a display case for others to see. That way others could be amazed by and rejoice at this beautiful and unique glasswork made by the finger of the Creator Himself. Then, they too, could wonder at the greatness of the God we serve.

The Bible talks about many treasures. Our salvation is compared to the pearl of great price. Solomon says a virtuous woman has a price far above rubies. (Maybe that is why my wife blushes when I read this passage every Mothers day as a tribute to her.) We are admonished to lay up to ourselves treasures in heaven. As thrilling as it might be for me to find the “treasure” of a fulgurite, there is no comparison to the treasure of salvation that I have in heaven.


Let my treasure be of things not seen,
Of spiritual lustre and Godly sheen.

The gold be that of righteousness,
Refined by fire, put to the test.

The diamonds sparkling as the sun,
Reflecting the glory of the Eternal One.

Sapphires, agates, and even the petosky stone,
Are set in the crown the King does own.

Whether of amethyst, pearl, ruby, or jade,
Let me as part of that crown be made.

Let me a gem be shining bright,
Showing His glory, reflecting His light.

Deane Wassink, July 2002