In the wake of a devastating 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, an enigmatic phenomenon has left scientists baffled and social media abuzz. Eerie flashes of light were captured on video preceding the seismic event, sparking a discussion about “earthquake lights” and what they mean. According to Science Alert, scientists have known about these mysterious lights that appear just before an earthquake for centuries, though the exact cause of these rays still remains a mystery.
No one knows why, but for hundreds of years, strange lights have appeared before an earthquake.
Historical records dating back centuries have occasionally reported bright flashes of light coinciding with seismic activity. These reports of earthquake lights describe a range of phenomena, from brief flashes to sustained fireballs, appearing either high or low in the sky and displaying various colors. However, due to the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, scientists had to rely on imperfect human memories, leading to skepticism and questions surrounding whether or not these lights that seem to warn about earthquake activity exist.
In recent years, technology has advanced incredibly fast, changing the very way our society operates. The addition of security cameras on every corner and smartphones in every hand has provided a new avenue for capturing these elusive lights. Videos from different regions worldwide have documented these bizarre occurrences, lending credibility to eyewitness accounts, including just before the 2021 earthquake in Mexico City and the 2022 earthquake in eastern Japan, both preceded by bright flashes.
While researchers put forward theories and collect evidence on earthquake lights, the phenomenon continues to elude a definitive explanation.
Despite growing evidence, the phenomenon of earthquake lights continues to elude a definitive explanation. Since earthquakes are impossible to predict, it’s also impossible to predict when earthquake lights will appear, leaving scientists to operate purely on theoretical hypotheses.
One theory, proposed by geophysicist Friedemann Freund of the SETI Institute, suggests that these earthquake lights result from an elaborate form of static electricity. As tectonic plates grind against each other, friction generates sufficient current to produce electric discharges, leading to bright flashes.
However, not all experts are convinced that earthquake lights are static electricity. Physicist Karen Daniels from North Carolina State University disputes this theory, citing the inability of rock-on-rock interactions to generate significant charge separation. In her view, the static electricity explanation falls short of accounting for the observed phenomenon.
Videos from different regions worldwide have documented these bizarre occurrences, lending credibility to eyewitness accounts, including just before the 2021 earthquake in Mexico City and the 2022 earthquake in eastern Japan, both preceded by bright flashes.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) remains cautious in its assessment, acknowledging differing opinions within the scientific community. Some geophysicists question whether the reports of unusual lighting near earthquake epicenters constitute evidence of earthquake lights, while others believe some reports may correspond to this phenomenon.
While researchers put forward theories and collect evidence on earthquake lights, the phenomenon continues to elude a definitive explanation. Whether these lights are an intricate interplay of static electricity or something yet unknown, they remind us that there is still plenty to learn about our planet and how Earth operates. As the quest to unravel the mystery of earthquake lights continues, one can’t help but be intrigued by the unknown and the possibility of understanding a phenomenon that has fascinated humanity for centuries.