The Dead Sea Valley region shows Lichtenberg figures (Lichtenberg electrical discharge patterns). Lichtenberg patterns are the result of an electrical discharge.
Lichtenberg figures (Lichtenberg-Figuren (German), or “Lichtenberg dust figures”) are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or in the interior of insulating materials. Lichtenberg figures are often associated with the progressive deterioration of high voltage components and equipment.
During breakdown, branching tree or fern-like conductive channels rapidly form and propagate through the plastic, allowing the trapped charge to suddenly rush out in a miniature lightning-like flash and bang. Breakdown of a charged specimen may also be manually triggered by poking the plastic with a pointed conductive object to create a point of excessive voltage stress. During the discharge, the powerful electric sparks leave thousands of branching chains of fractures behind – creating a permanent Lichtenberg figure inside the specimen. Although the internal charge within the specimen is negative, the discharge is initiated from the positively charged exterior surfaces of the specimen, so that the resulting discharge creates a positive Lichtenberg figure. These beautiful objects are sometimes called electron trees, beam trees, or lightning trees.
Dead Sea region – natural Lichtenberg figures?
Lichtenberg discharges can be seen in nature in lightning and lightning strikes on humans or ground often produce lightning flowers. You can also get fulgurites in sandy areas where lightning strikes the ground. The Grand Canyon also looks like a very large natural Lichtenberg figure.