Mysterious lights that signal earthquakes explained by scientists

January 4, 2014 GEOLOGY - Mysterious lights that occur before or during earthquakes have been noted by eyewitnesses for centuries but, until now, have baffled scientists. In one example from 1727, a man from New England reported how he felt the ground shake then saw a ball of light roll onto his dog, causing the animal to yelp. In Peru in 2009, a fisherman said he saw the sky turn violet before the earthquake, while in L’Aquila in 2009, a man saw white flashes before the tremor struck. Researchers writing in the publication Seismological Research Letters have now put forward a theory about this mystery glowing, which takes place in geological rifts when the ground is being torn apart. The authors looked at several studies about earthquake lights to propose a mechanism for why they occur, Nature magazine reports. They compiled all the reports of earthquake lights from 1600 to date, focusing on 27 earthquakes in the US and 38 in Europe. Of the 65 studied, 56 earthquakes occurred along ancient or active rift zones. A further 63 took place where geological faults that ruptured were almost vertical – many fault lines have much smaller angles. Lead author Robert Thériault, a geologist at Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec City, said: “Earthquake lights are a real phenomenon – they’re not UFOs. They can be scientifically explained.”
John Ebel, a geophysicist at Boston College in Massachusetts, explained why there have been problems studying this phenomenon in the past: “It’s just not a regular area of scientific inquiry, because there’s no way to do an experiment on them.” In the study, the authors say that during an earthquake, the rocks grinding against each other generate electric charges that travel up along the fault lines. When they reach Earth’s surface, they create a glow. They believe the steep geometry explains the earthquake lights. Team member Friedemann Freund, a mineral physicist at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, believes a chemical process causes the lights. “When the stress of an earthquake hits the rock, it breaks chemical bonds involved in these defects, creating holes of positive electrical charge,” Nature reports. “These ‘p holes’ flow can vertically through the fault to the surface, triggering strong local electric fields that can generate light.” However, Ebel said there are a number of other reactions that may be responsible for these mystery lights: “It makes enough sense, but that doesn’t mean that it’s right.” Thériault added that while they have not yet got a definitive answer about the lights, awareness of their presence could help as a warning sign for earthquakes. -IBT
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18 Responses to Mysterious lights that signal earthquakes explained by scientists

  1. Interesting Post, personally I had not heard of this before so was interested to read more

  2. Fr. Duffy fighting 69th says:

    BS. It is HAARP, end of story.

  3. Kaos says:


    Sunspot 1944 Watch
    Below is an updated image of massive sunspot 1944 on Friday. The active region continues to rotate into a more geoeffective position, has a complex Beta-Gamma magnetic configuration, and spans the size of over 1000 millionths. A number of low to mid level C-Class flares are being observed around the cluster on Friday morning. There will remain a chance for stronger M-Class solar flares during the next 24 hours, along with a lower threat for a major X-Class event.


  4. Mike Jones says:

    HAARP in action?

  5. Debbie says:

    Dose anyone else see the face looking down from the clouds?

  6. Louise Page says:

    I have observed this phenomenon and/or observed many photos of such.
    Apart from feeling that ions (in a positive or negative state); electrical, chemical and physical ‘energies’ emitted from earth movements; water vapors emitted from faults and other earth movements interacting with properties in the atmosphere may also cause a rainbow affect above the location of a ground disturbance (fault shift etc.).
    Included in personal observations, I have noticed distinctive vertical clouds arising in various places along fault lines after an earth tremor/EQ. These vertical clouds aren’t very long lived.
    Yet another observation of mine (and has been witnessed by, e.g. scientists/observers in China, Japan, Chile etc.), other cloud formations in the shape of an open fan, where at it’s narrowest point, can be seen arising from the ‘ground’ at an EQ focal point and splaying up and out (fanning out) into the atmosphere. These can be less vertical in nature, with a tendency to spread more horizontally as they enter the atmosphere.

    I have been an ‘observer’ of these sorts of phenomenon (precursors and post-notes) (and have been mildly ridiculed for such sometimes) for over 40 years now and I am glad mainstream science is trying to study these curious occurrences. Though the observations of these things is as old as ‘time’, to have the studies and observations of those (e.g like some Chinese, Japanese etc., observers and scientists and those folks in our distant past) possibly being appreciated for their knowledge and observations is terrific.

    Observing these (some as) precursors may only avail some of a short time of being prepared for an impending EQ/tremor, but at least this information may go on to save many lives.
    Tuning into Nature’s messages and signals, and recognizing when ‘she’ is trying to ‘tell us something’, is an invaluable science in itself.

    Peace and safety to all ;)

  7. It’s unfortunate that the photo has nothing to do with the topic. The image is of irisation in icy cirrus clouds.

  8. Edward West says:

    This is off topic but, could you give more (daily?) info on the Fukushima nuclear disaster? Also, is it true that U.S. President Obama has warned all U.S. media to not report on this disaster?

  9. Dave Neff says:

    This looks like a sun dog to me which is like a rainbow. Sun dogs are cause by light reflecting on ice crystals in very cold air. This frequently occurs when a big drop in temperature occurs. Sun dogs are straight lines usually on opposite sides of the sun. I am not saying that the article is wrong however.

  10. Moco says:

    So Haarp does work.

  11. James - Sydney says:

    I remember before the Sichaun earthquake in 2008 in china there was a video uploaded onto YouTube by a local of the area showing the strange cloud formations (exactly what you see above), these clouds were seen 10 minutes before the earthquake

    Video (sorry Alvin if I am not allowed to link external sites)

    Also, before the Christchurch earthquake (video not as defined as the Sichuan link)

    This was 6 years ago, and i remember when the first video was uploaded, people (including those that I spoke to) were so quick to brush it off as “nonsense” and “conspiracy theorist garbage”

    Alvin, has it come to a point were those of us that are aware enough to see what is going on with the world, from all facets and angles are simply waiting for the impending change (catastrophe, end of days…whatever you want to call it) because it has come to the point where even if there was an overnight paradigm shift in the attitude of every living person on the planet as to the route we are taking…..there isnt enough time to put on the emergency brake?

    Can we only wait for the change to happen….and try to sort out ‘life’ after that?

    I can feel it deep within my ‘bones’…..something is coming….and the world isnt ready for what is about to play out

  12. bobby90247 says:

    Yeap, “clouds” DO have an eerie color to them “just” before an earthquake…occurs.

  13. kennycjr says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this rainbow phenomenon as HAARP-related. Is there any clear evidence that the lights that appeared before HAARP would have been in effect were rainbows?

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