Earthquake Lights Now Related To Geologic Rifts, Scientists Explain
65 reports of earthquake lights taken over 400 years have been analyzed
Earthquake lights are thought to occur near geologic rifts
New research suggests that earthquake lights occur near geologic rifts, the area where pieces of the Earth pull away from each other. Earthquake lights have been seen in many of the world’s largest earthquakes, such as the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
Earthquake lights are flashes of electricity that can occur during an earthquake. The electrical current is thought to be caused by the quick buildup of stress near the vertical faults.
The new research on earthquake lights was published in the January 2nd edition of Seismological Research Letters. Until recently, earthquake lights have been a thing of lore due to reports being difficult to explain logically. Recent studies included observations from 65 cases observed over the past 400 years.
Here is one such observation of earthquake lights reported before the Saguenay earthquake in 1988 that is included in the research:
“ Less than one minute before the mainshock, about 20 km to the NNE of the epicenter, a trapper was emerging from the forest just to the east of the city of Laterrière. The sky was clear, the wind very calm and there was no frost on the trees. A crackling noise emitted by the trees suddenly came from the direction of the epicentral area. The noise sped by him, passing by his location at the same time as a large luminous body in contact with the ground appeared before his eyes. The witness then felt the shock. The moving luminous body, estimated to have measured about 15 m in height and at least 600 m in width, rapidly disappeared at the horizon opposite to where it came from. Note that the witness was situated approximately along a WSW-ENE oriented regional fault that transects the Saguenay Graben.”
There are many other sightings of earthquake lights listed within the study.
“Earthquake lights are totally underreported. They are often things that happen within a fraction of a second,” states study co-author Friedemann Freund.
These earthquake lights were reported during the T?hoku earthquake in 2011.