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Posted: 1/8/2005 11:43:43 PM EDT


Alright, so this is kind of a lame question but it's late, I'm bored, this question popped into my head, and we all know there is always an answer for any question from this site. What happens when there's a thunderstorm in the open ocean and lightening hits the water? Since sea water is a pretty good conductor given the high salt content, does a large part of the ocean become electrified for a brief time (and in turn killing a lot of fish)? Does the electricity, >50 million volts and >100 thousand Amps, just dissipate quickly? What about a ship that's a few miles away from where the bolt hits the water?

Link Posted: 1/8/2005 11:44:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/8/2005 11:44:54 PM EDT by dpmmn]
I've seen it, never really gave it much of a thought though
Link Posted: 1/8/2005 11:47:49 PM EDT
Thought about this, but never enough to ask. Now I'm anxiously awaiting an answer.
Link Posted: 1/8/2005 11:48:26 PM EDT
Where do you think Electric Eels come from?
Link Posted: 1/8/2005 11:52:35 PM EDT
tag

Excellent question.
Link Posted: 1/8/2005 11:53:53 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/8/2005 11:54:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DrFrige:
Where do you think Electric Eels come from?



Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:05:12 AM EDT
near instant dissipation, significant transfer to heat, short lived plasma cloud...

Thats my guess.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:06:07 AM EDT
www.lightningstorm.com/tux/jsp/faq/index.jsp

From the above website:


Question: Is marine life killed or injured when lightning strikes in an ocean?
When lightning hits open water, the current is able to travel through the water quite well. How far away the dangerous current travels is not known, but it's probably on the order of tens of yards. At and very near the strike point--within a few yards--current enters the body of a living organization, resulting in injury or death. At greater distances, the effects are less, so that the current might stun an organism but not kill it. There are few reports of massive fish kills. It may be that there are not too many fish in any single volume in the affected water, they may recover quickly, or maybe larger fish eat the incapacitated fish.

Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:06:08 AM EDT
I recently read something about this but I can't remember where.

Surprisingly the energy of the bolt doesn't penetrate very deep below the surface at all (maybe a couple of feet *directly* below the strike point).

Most of the energy spreads across the surface of teh water so unless the fish happens to be breaking the surface they pretty much wouldn't notice.
Given that it's a surface effect I would imagine the current begins to drop rapidly (square root of the distance maybe?) as it moves away from the strike point so it probably drops off to very low levels within a half mile or so).

Please do some testing and report back if I'm right.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:12:08 AM EDT
Well... I know that electricity pases only on the surface of water.

and Saltwater may be a good conductor of electricity but it's not the best, a fare share of teh electricity is lost to the saltwater.

I would say you would get an electrified surface of the water for a brief moment.


After being 15 feet from a lightning strike you tend to gain a new respect to nature's wrath.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:14:51 AM EDT
Good reason for fiberglass boats.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:17:34 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/9/2005 12:18:22 AM EDT by Citabria7GCBC]
It will create a MEGA Tsunami which will travel several hundred miles and be bigger than the tallest buildings in the world
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:19:24 AM EDT
Only a few minutes and I have answers. I knew this would be resolved.


I suspected that the electricity traveled on the surface but for some reason didn't figure that most fish wouldn't be inches below the water. It is interesting that the current doesn't travel very far and gets dissipated quickly.


Thanks guys.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 12:19:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Citabria7GCBC:
It will create a MEGA Tsunami which will travel several hundred miles and be bigger than the tallest buildings in the world




Nope! Those are all Bush's fault.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 7:53:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vanilla_gorilla:

Originally Posted By Citabria7GCBC:
It will create a MEGA Tsunami which will travel several hundred miles and be bigger than the tallest buildings in the world




Nope! Those are all Bush's fault.



So is lightning.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 8:01:44 AM EDT
When I was on the beach in Florida the lifeguards made you get out of the water if they saw lightning or heard thunder.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:09:05 AM EDT
If your submerged in water wouldn't the potential difference in resistance be 0. WOuldn't it have the same effect as wearing a wire mesh suit that the linemen wear while working on high voltage power lines?
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:13:57 AM EDT
I'd think the lightning would naturally follow the path of least resistance exemplifying the Faraday effect, taking the path of 0 resistance through the ocean rather than the path of greater resistance through the sea life.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:14:09 AM EDT

Lightening hitting the ocean - what happens


THE big bang!!!
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:16:57 AM EDT
Dolphins and sharks playing mini-golf with steel putters and spikes
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:19:54 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:20:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wingnut116ACW:
I'd think the lightning would naturally follow the path of least resistance exemplifying the Faraday effect, taking the path of 0 resistance through the ocean rather than the path of greater resistance through the sea life.



Most likely, and seeing as the ocean is so huge and in contact with the earth, the dispersion capacity would be greater than anything the sky can throw at it.

I imagine that so long as you are not in the immediate area, you'd be fine.
Link Posted: 1/9/2005 9:25:42 AM EDT
HARRRRR!!!

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