Earthquake Lights

A phenomenon that in circles the globe and has been reported as early as 373 B.C. is lights that accompany earthquakes. The phenomena as not very well understood by science, but some explanations are put forward in this article.

One of the many mysteries of science is the mysterious lights this sometimes accompany an earthquake. These have been seen and reported by many people over the years. Several people reported seeing these lights during a recent earthquake in Lima Peru.

Earthquakes have been accompanied by a strange multi-colored lights taking place at any time before, during and after an earthquake has occurred. It is only recently that modern science has started to take these lights seriously. However, they have been reported throughout history. What the origin of these lights is however remains a mystery.

A possible explanation of the phenomenon may be triboluminescence. This occurs when you apply a shear stress to quartz. This can occur when you are sawing a quartz crystal with a diamond saw. It also occurs whenever a quartz Crystal is being broken. You can observe this common effect in your darkened kitchen. The effect on quartz crystals also happens on sugar crystals. If you take some sugar and sprinkle it onto a plate and then grind it with the bottom of the coffee cup you will also get the same effect.

The first time these lights were ever reported was by an ancient philosopher, Callisthenes, when he wrote of an earthquake that occurred in 373 B.C. according to him the earthquake lights foretold the destruction of the cities Helice and Buris in ancient Greece. The destruction of these cities was accompanied by immense columns of fire.

The majority of these reports however started flooding the literature in the 20th century. They were mainly centered on the many earthquakes that occurred in Japan. The researchers of this phenomenon have collected thousands reports of these lights during the 20th century in Japan. Over 1500 reports alone came in as a result of the Idu Peninsula earthquake in 1930.

The Tangshan earthquake in China on July 26, 1976 was reported to have a colorful display of many colored lights that accompanied the earthquake. In 1988 and again in 1999 lights accompanying earthquakes were reported in the Saguenay region of Quebec. These were reported by Corliss in 2000:

  1. Seismic lightning (no thunder);
  2. Luminous bands in atmosphere;
  3. Globular incandescent masses;
  4. Fire tongues, small mobile flames near the ground, like Will-o’-the wisps; and
  5. Flames emerging from the ground.

Another writer, Marcel Ouelett wrote about them in the prestigious magazine “Nature” entitled, “Earthquake Lights and Seismicity” where he claimed that fireballs leapt out of the ground a few meters from the observers. Another writer, Friedman Freund, of NASA wrote a landmark paper in 2003 entitled, Rocks That Crackle and Sparkle and Glow. He proposed the theory that, “High-energy distortions of into P-type semiconductors allowing an electrical charge cloud to rock and turn them propagate through the rock.”

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