This causes straight-line cracks in the rocky structures that were once thought to be from constant cycles of freezing and thaw.
Researchers from South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand found that lightning can partially melt rocks at the summit.
This allows the rocks to take on the orientation of today’s magnetic field, rather than the one from millions of years ago when the rock was originally formed.
Geographer Jasper Knight says this allows them to accurately map out where lightning has struck across mountain landscapes.
By observing how nearby rocks and boulders have been dislodged by the lightning, Knight says that a mountain landscape can evolve very quickly over a brief period of time.
Photo: Jasper Knight