Skip to main content

Lightning-induced features on granitic gneiss and its implication for rare lightning scars from the geological record


Cloud-to-ground lightning can cause high-temperature and high-pressure deformation features in rock at the strike point, forming fulgurite. Although cloud-to-ground lightning is a frequent phenomenon, rock fulgurites are rarely reported. Here, we present field, optical microscope, X-ray fluorescence, scanning and transmission electron microscope, in situ synchrotron projection X-ray microscopy and X-ray diffraction, and Raman data to investigate the formation and preservation of a recently formed rock fulgurite from Kinmen Island, Taiwan. In the field, the fulgurite is asymmetrically distributed on the surface over an ~ 12 m2 area. In detail, the fulgurite contains an opaque glassy layer comprised of quartz and feldspar clasts, voids, iron-rich spheres, and barite aggregates that overlies fractured quartz grains and feldspar grains with planar features. Secondary minerals found locally adhering to the glassy layer as greenish patches are mainly jarosite group minerals, which commonly form as a secondary hydrothermal alteration product. We interpret the jarosite to have formed during the solidification of melt in the presence of raindrops, suggesting the rapid alteration of glass and short preservation potential of rock fulgurite. Finally, we estimate the production ratio of fulgurite by calculating the energy required for fulgurite formation and that released to the ground by the lightning event. A calculated energy ratio of 0.026% is within the range of 10–2 to 10–4 of the lightning total energy delivered to the strike point. We suggest that the scarcity of rock fulgurite in the geological record may be due to both the low production possibility and rapid alteration.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11

Data availability

All microstructural observations used in this study are available by contacting the corresponding author L.-W. Kuo (


Download references


We thank Dr. Chi-Ming Peng and WeatherRisk Explore Inc for providing the lightning data. We thank Kinmen National Park and Taiwan Power Company for providing the fulgurites and the chemical data of the Taiwushan formation, respectively. We thank both Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Central University, and Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan for providing the rainwater data on Kinmen Island. We thank Mr. Chien-Yu Lee and Dr. Pei-Tzu Lee of NSRRC Experimental Technique Group for PXM image execution.


The research was supported by the Taiwan ROC (Republic of China) Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST 110–2116-M-008–002-MY2) and Earthquake-Disaster & Risk Evaluation and Management Center (E-DREaM) from the Ministry of Education (MOE) to Li-Wei Kuo. Dennis Brown acknowledges funding (PGC2018-094227-B-I00) from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities, as well as a Chaired Professor stipend from the Department of Earth Sciences at National Central University. Jialiang Si acknowledges funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41872211).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Li-Wei Kuo.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors have no competing interests to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

Additional information

Communicated by Gordon Moore.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (MP4 69704 KB)

Supplementary file2 (AVI 50278 KB)

Supplementary file3 (DOCX 43 KB)

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chen, T.Y., Kuo, LW., Brown, D. et al. Lightning-induced features on granitic gneiss and its implication for rare lightning scars from the geological record. Contrib Mineral Petrol 177, 111 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: