Earthquakes: why do lights appear in the sky when the Earth shakes?

In the early hours of Thursday, September 22, a 6.9 earthquake was recorded in Mexico with an epicenter in the state of Michoacán. According to the National Seismological Service, there have been 1,436 aftershocks of the telluric movement that occurred three days ago with a magnitude of 7.7. Through social networks, several Mexicans published their sightings of mysterious lights in the sky. However, it would not be anything out of the ordinary, since there is a scientific explanation for this luminous phenomenon.

According to research carried out at Rutgers University (USA), light flashes arise due to landslides near geological faults on our planet. This process generates an electrical charge, which has become known by the term “earthquake lights”.

For scientists it is no mystery, since these lights have been documented since 1600, says a report by the Seismological Association of the United States.

Another similar case happened with the rays of light that were recorded on security cameras in the 2007 earthquake in Pisco, Peru. Clips were also uploaded on YouTube showing luminous spheres when the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami occurred in Japan.

On the other hand, it is known that the lights seen in earthquakes can occur before or during telluric movements.

While the most common lightning strikes in the sky occur from the buildup of electrical charge in clouds, researchers at Rutgers University determined that earthquake lights are caused by the increase in electrical charge on the ground when the ground breaks.

Regarding the earthquake that recently occurred in Mexico, the academician Estaban Hernández, from the UNAM Institute of Geophysics, explained to the EFE agency that this phenomenon is known as triboluminescence and it is because, during the earthquake, the friction of the particles that are in the earth’s crust “release electrons or electrical charges”.