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No. 104: Mar-Apr 1996

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Bright Sparks Erupt From Beach

Here follows a letter from S. Roman, Melbourne, Australia:

"The tide was out one day as a friend and I were walking along a beach. As we walked on the littoral zone -- the part of the beach between low and high tides -- strange blue lights lit up around our feet as we stepped on the sand. The lights were similar to lightning and the harder we stepped on the ground the more intense the blue lights became. Nobody has been able to provide us with a satisfactory explanation and, no, we were not under the influence of any drugs. Just what was happening?"

(Roman, Suzanne; "Bright Sparks," New Scientist, inside back cover, January 13, 1996)

Comment. A similar phenomenon was observed at Blundellsands, England, on June 5, 1902, when tiny flames erupted from a mud flat. Spontaneously igniting methane from buried organic matter is a possible explanation. See GLN1-X36 in Lightning, Auroras. For more information on this catalog, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #104, MAR-APR 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987