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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