Shocking News: Lightning Can Shape a Mountain!

A bolt from the blue has many powers. But until now, no one suspected that it is a major sculptor of mountains.

But if you had told him at the time that lightning played a major role in shaping those mountains, he observes, "I would have said, 'You must be joking—what nonsense.'"

Not anymore. Grab and a colleague at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand, geologist Jasper Knight, have just given a jolt of their own to conventional notions about the forces that shape mountains. In research published in the January 1 issue of the journal Geomorphology, they present evidence that lightning—rather than ice or heat—is the main force shattering rocks on Drakensberg summits.

Grab and Knight surveyed a quarter square mile amid Drakensberg peaks in Lesotho and found 90 sites where lightning strikes had blasted apart the basalt rock face, scattering up

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