Fulgurites or ‘petrified lightning’
Fulgurites are tubular features composed of amorphous silica that form through the impact of lightning on the earth’s surface. The lightning strike results in partial melting of the material that it hits, followed by formation of an amorphous, glass-like phase upon rapid cooling. In Africa, they have mainly been described in sand deserts of the Sahara.
The fulgurites presented here were collected by Edmond Dartevelle of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in the 1930s, in a small sandy depression north of Loango in the Republic of the Congo. Their discovery was presented in a 1941 publication as the first known fulgurite occurrence in Central Africa.
Edmond Dartevelle (1907-1956) was a biologist and palaeontologist who led several important expeditions to the coastal area of Central Africa, in a region extending from Angola to Gabon. The numerous and diverse items that he collected in the field, ranging from fossils to ethnographical objects, are now part of the holdings of various RMCA departments.