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Scientists find near-definitive list for rare earthquake lights

  1. Jan 2, 2014 #1
    Scientists find near-definitive list for rare "earthquake lights"

    Scientists find records of rare 'earthquake lights'

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2014 #2
    "These can manifest themselves as floating balls of light"
    Reminded me of ball lightning but the formation hypotheses seem different...
  4. Jan 5, 2014 #3
    This is fascinating...

    "'When a powerful seismic wave runs through the ground and hits a layer of such rocks, it compresses the rocks with great pressure and speed, creating conditions under which large amounts of positive and negative electrical charges are generated,' he said. These charges can travel together, reaching what's called a plasma state, which can burst out and shoot up into the air."

    If the formation hypothesis is correct, then do you think it would be possible to recreate this phenomenon on a smaller scale? The Caltech Shockwave Lab comes to mind.
  5. Jan 6, 2014 #4
    Don't know about earthquake lights but it was done with ball lightning...
  6. Jan 6, 2014 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Well, maybe. No one had been able to produce anything in the lab that exhibits all of the characteristics associated with ball lightning. Most notably, everything seen in the lab is either extremely short lived or requires some form of external energy.

    With respect to earthquake lights, I am reminded of this comment from a seismologist.


    I was also amused by this comment
    By definition they were UFOs. :biggrin:
  7. Jan 19, 2014 #6
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Jan 20, 2014 #7


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    The silicon nanoparticle hypothesis to explain Ball Lightning (BL) was proposed in 2000 by John Abrahamson and James Dinniss, and published in Letters to Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v403/n6769/full/403519a0.html

    Their claim was BL would result when lightning from a cloud strikes the ground causing some silica contained in the soil to be vaporized. Somehow the oxygen would split from the silicon dioxide, resulting in pure silicon vapor. While cooling this silicon would condense into an aerosol and then recombine with the oxygen, causing it to glow. This process has not yet been reproduced in the laboratory, as far as I know.

    The recent analysis by the Chinese team shows the spectrum of a glowing sphere that contains emission lines from silicon, iron, and calcium. These are elements expected to be found in soil. Although this mechanism may describe one type of BL, it cannot account for all types of BL. Observations of BL appear within buildings after passing through closed doors and closed glass windows, and within metal aircraft, having both entered and exited without causing damage. Since silicon nanoparticle aerosol cannot pass through solid barriers, the theory does not explain all BL formations.
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  9. Jan 20, 2014 #8


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    What sort of particles can pass through solid barriers, yet remain organized in a glowing sphere?
  10. Jan 21, 2014 #9
    Pssst...Are you talking about the small blackhole hypothesis thingy?
    And could you refer me to the reports where BL has been said to pass through solid barriers? (I am drawing a blank on google...)
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  11. Jan 30, 2014 #10


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    I would enjoy and could gain immensely from a free and open discussion of Ball Lightning (BL).

    My meager attempt to explain BL was posted here on PF five years ago. I invite you to read it. See: “Ball Lightning Debunk, New Proposal” by Bobbywhy, dated 17 Feb 2009 at:
    The thread was quickly locked by our moderator because it was a personal theory.

    Since our Forum Discussion Guidelines do not allow “speculations that go beyond or counter to generally-accepted science”, and since there is no “generally-accepted science” that describes Ball Lightning, I cannot answer your question here.

    If we look at the Wikipedia page for BL we find this list:

    Possible scientific explanations:
    Electrically charged solid-core model, Microwave cavity hypothesis, Soliton hypothesis
    Vaporized silicon hypothesis, Hydrodynamic vortex ring antisymmetry, Nanobattery hypothesis, Black hole hypothesis, Buoyant plasma hypothesis, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Spinning plasma toroid (ring), Rydberg matter concept”

    If I were to simple rearrange these in the order of what I believe is the most likely to least likely scientific explanation, then that would be in violation of the PF rule regarding personal theories. I invite anyone here to use our Personal Message system if she would like to search with me for a better understanding of BL.

  12. Jan 31, 2014 #11
    Oh, I don't think so. Some of those are quite reasonable scientific theories.
  13. Mar 9, 2014 #12


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    Here is a new report of research supporting the idea of "earthquake lights" as noted in the OP.

    Of particular interest to physics students should be the discovery of unexpected electrical activity generated by a humble box of kitchen flour.

    "The results were presented at the American Physical Society’s March Meeting in Denver on Thursday by Rutgers University biomedical engineer Troy Shinbrot. His lab has created a miniature model of earthquake-like jamming and cracking, and has found huge voltage jumps that result from the shifting of granular material used to mimic the earth.

    He used tanks filled with different types of grains, from kitchen flour to glass beads, and moved them relative to one another in a quick start-and-stop motion to create cracks. A non-contact voltage probe focused on measuring a certain crack. The voltages differed from material to material, but the overall pattern remained the same. When the grains split open, they measured a positive voltage spike, and when the split closed, a negative spike.

    Sometimes the voltage ­changes were as high as hundreds of volts — but as of now, the researchers cannot explain why."
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