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No. 16: Summer 1981

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Earthquake Lights And Crustal Deformation

Hedervari supports the hypothesis that some earthquake lights, particularly those preceding strong regional quakes, are caused by the release and ignition of gases from the stressed rocks. Several curious features of earthquake lights favor this assertion:

  1. Prequake lights are regional in character corresponding to the widespread flexing of the strata. (In the 1933 Japanese quake, earthquake lights were seen along a 1000-km arc);

  2. There is no correlation between the earthquake epicenter and the location of earthquake lights. (In the 1977 Romania quake, the epicenter was east of Cluj but the earthquake lights lit up the western horizon.

(Hedervari, Peter; "The Possible Correlations between Crustal Deformations Prior to Earthquakes and Earthquake Lights," Seismological Society of America, Bulletin, 71:371, 1981.)

Comment. In essense, Hedervari is saying that earthquake lights often do not occur where rock stresses are greatest and that the piezoelectric effect may not be the whole story.

Reference. Many examples of earthquake lights are presented in our Catalog: Lightning, Auroras, in category GLD8. To order this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #16, Summer 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss