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President's Message

Busy Busy Busy

This sure is a busy time of the year for all of us here at TBFC. In the next three or four months we’ll need to get in four more monthly meetings, eight or more field trips, and the largest paleo show in the south, FossilFest 2020! As soon as we get FossilFest closed and back into its box, we’ll be loading up for the Peace River Adventure. The Peace River Adventure is TBFC’s largest annual field trip where hundreds of people will gather for a “paleo” weekend. With the help of the Officers, Directors, and good folks like you, everything will be accomplished and we’ll have a great time doing it. Please read through TBFC’s volunteer needs for FossilFest in this edition of the Chronicles.

February 1, 2020
Fulgurites, Fossilizing Lightning in Florida
Dr, Matthew Pasek

The energy behind the blinding light, deafening crackle and lingering sizzle of a lightning strike can now be measured with more precision than ever, thanks to years of research by Dr. Matthew Pasek.

His findings show that a majority of lightning strikes are more powerful than even he expected.

Pasek and his team are the first to determine the power of a strike by examining what it leaves behind: hollow icicle-like glass tubes called fulgurites.

A strike can heat surrounding air to 53,000 degrees Fahrenheit. When lightning hits sand, the intense heat vaporizes and melts the quartz in anywhere from a millionth to a thousandth of a second. Then, as the ground quickly cools, fulgurites are instantly formed.

About 10 fulgurites are formed globally per second, Pasek says, though lightning hits the Earth about 45 times per second. Those strikes are usually on land, but fulgurites form only when lightning comes in contact with sand, soil, rock or clay.

Dr. Pasek has studied more than 267 fulgurites, some of which could be thousands of years old, from CC Calhoun Inc.'s sand mines in Polk County. The mines are near Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, a high point in the state.

It traditionally has been difficult for atmospheric physicists to accurately measure the energy of a lightning strike. The best methods available involve sending bottle rockets loaded with copper wires into lightning strikes to measure electrical wattage or using a radio tower to measure current and temperature of a strike.

Come hear Dr. Pasek’s presentation on lighting strikes. Some of these fulgurites are as old as the Ice Age.

FossilFest 2020
March 13, 14 & 15

As we turn our calendars to 2020, FossilFest is just a few months away. It will take our entire TBFC tribe to pull it off. In this issue of the Chronicles you will find a long list of information about volunteering for the event and all of the items we need to have donated. Please take a few minutes to read through the entire list.


I hope to see another good crowd at the January meeting.

Good and safe hunting to you!
Mike Searle