Sunday, April 01, 2012

Fulgurites & Fanciful Formations

Fulgurites are among the more unusual objects that are occasionally found on Ocracoke. Formed when lightning strikes the beach and fuses the sand into irregular lumps of glass, small fulgurites are sometimes not even recognized as anything unusual (you can read more about fulgurites here). That was not the case several days ago when visitors were walking along the beach north of the pony pen. They stumbled upon a very strange formation of fulgurites.

Three rather large circles of fused sand were arranged as on the points of an imaginary triangle. Surrounding the fulgurite circles was a much larger indented circle, as if a powerful wind had carved out a two foot wide trench. Word quickly spread throughout the village, and soon a horde of people were traipsing all over the configurations, threatening to destroy much of the design, and picking up many small fulgurites. Fortunately, it didn't take long for the Park rangers to seal off the area to protect the strange circles.

No one knows what caused the unusual formation, but theories and speculations abound. The most popular idea is that aliens landed a spaceship on Ocracoke beach. More sober minds are looking for a perfectly natural explanation, perhaps an unusual lightning strike (we did have a thunderstorm recently), or even an elaborate hoax.

News crews from several eastern North Carolina TV stations were on the island yesterday. You can read their reports, and see photographs of the unusual formations here.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Rondthalers of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here:


  1. This happens at least once a year -- usually on April 1st. Hey, I'm no fool.

  2. Anonymous8:50 AM

    Got me!

  3. Anonymous9:12 AM

    You get me every year!!!!!!

  4. Got me again! Although I do think I have a couple of small pieces, I didn't know what they were or that they had a name.

  5. Debbie Leonard5:00 PM


  6. Anonymous5:49 PM

    Last year you got me good, now I'm much too sophisticated to fall for that! Thanks for the effort though--great way to start the day :)

  7. debbie s.5:56 PM


  8. Got me big time! I was visualizing it and getting mad at myself for not going down there first.

  9. Julie S.9:06 PM

    Darn! You got me!!

  10. Jack and Toni Walls7:06 AM

    Got us both again this year. You are tricky.