Several people reported seeing flashes of light after the earthquake that shook Napa Valley on Sunday. Similar lights have been seen after other earthquakes all around the world. A scientist with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California says the lights, which are often mistaken for UFOs, are what he calls “earthquake lights.”
KPIX 5 (CBS San Francisco) says they began receiving reports of the strange lights right after the earthquake on Sunday. Other witnesses reported their sightings on twitter.
Twitter user Keedo wrote, ” Everybody felt the earthquake but I’m the only one who saw the blue flashes in the sky??”
Everybody felt the earthquake but I’m the only one who saw the blue flashes in the sky??
— Keedo (@JerelleBazemore) August 24, 2014
Anne Belden tweeted, ” Saw flashes of light that looked like lightning right after earthquake, then huge green flash north of Sebastopol. #earthquake”
Scientist Friedemann Freund with the SETI Institute says these sorts of reports are often made after earthquakes all around the world. KPIX 5 included pictures and videos of the lights from Japan and Peru (seen above).
Freund says the lights are often believed to be UFOs or exploding transformers. However, he believes the lights are EQLs, short for “earthquake lights.”
Freund told KPIX 5, “What they are, are a consequence of the stresses building up deep below the earth, seven miles like in the case of the Napa Valley earthquake.”
Freund has been researching the EQL phenomenon for 12 years. He and his team have looked at over 65 cases spanning over 400 years.
Even though Freund offers a conventional explanation for the lights being seen after earthquakes all over the world, most seismologist don’t believe earthquake lights exits. However, Freund is far from being alone in his beliefs.
Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported on an experiment conducted by Rutgers University. They created a miniature model of earthquake-like conditions, and found “huge voltage jumps that result from the shifting of granular material used to mimic the earth.”
Their findings lend credence to Freund’s theory. However, he admits there is a lot of work still to be done. He told the Washington Post, “The observation is really well done, the experiments are well conducted, but the full understanding is not yet available.”
As for those who doubt the existence of earthquake lights, Freund says, “There are things that we still don’t understand about the earth, so why not accept unusual, exceptionally unusual phenomena taking place? And the light outburst from the ground is one of them.”