Museum, University of Nebraska State



C. M. Riley

Date of this Version


Document Type



The University of Nebraska State Museum Volume 4, Number 5, pp. 83-88 Figs. 2


From the time of the ancients man has been impressed with the force of lightning and its effect on the rocks at the surface of the earth. It was Saussure in 1786 who first wrote a scientific account of a true fulgurite, and a wealth of literature has been written about the subject since this time. Many unusual fulgurites have been described, some of which may not truly be the result of lightning. The iron fulgurite is a strange conical object about 3 inches high composed mainly of tiny spheres and filaments of metallic iron intermixed with a small amount of nonmetallic soil minerals. It is believed that a bold of lightning hit an iron object lying in a farmyard, instantly melted it, and somehow sprayed the molten iron into the soil where it solidified. The power needed by a lightning bold to instantly melt a mass of iron this size was computed at 2050 x 106 watts.