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Scientists seek to explain curious 'earthquake lights' phenomenon

Earthquake Lights

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Lights observed before the 8.0 earthquake that hit Sichuan, China in 2008.

A new study on the curious phenomenon known as earthquake lights posits some causes for the strange glowing lights that have been seen before earthquakes for centuries but have remained a mystery of science.

Observers describe seeing glowing patches in the sky just before or during an earthquake and photographic evidence seems to support those descriptions.

Scientists looked at reports of earthquake lights from around the world going back several centuries. What they found is that the lights are most correlated with seismic rift zones where the earth is pulling apart. Researchers theorize that the stress on the rocks associated with an earthquake creates an electric field that accounts for the glow.

SETI researcher and study co-author Friedemann Freund joins the show to discuss the research.


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