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According to the New Madrid, Missouri web site, during the 1811-1812 earthquakes there were reports of lights coming from the ground due to quartz crystals being squeezed. They call this phenomena “seismoluminescence.” There are also videos online taken during the 2017 Chiapas, Mexico earthquake showing strange lights in the sky. Lights have been reported associated with numerous other earthquakes throughout history.

Is there any research that has been done to either prove or disprove that these reported lights are actually being caused by the earthquake, and if so how are the lights created?

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  • $\begingroup$ Sounds sorta like sonoluminescence ("the emission of short bursts of light from imploding bubbles in a liquid when excited by sound"), which has some theoretical explanations. $\endgroup$ – Nat Nov 5 '17 at 3:53
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I am not too much into the subject, but it is a curious phenomenon indeed. There is a recent publication in Scientific Reports (Enomoto et al., 2017) where a group of scientists performed some lab experiments and reported:

CO2 gases passing through the newly created fracture surface of the rock were electrified to generate pressure-impressed current/electric dipoles, which could induce a magnetic field following Biot-Savart’s law, decrease the atmospheric electric field and generate dielectric-barrier discharge lightning affected by the coupling effect between the seismic and meteorological activities

If you want to read the full paper you can search it with this reference:

Enomoto, Y., Yamabe, T., & Okumura, N. (2017). Causal mechanisms of seismo-EM phenomena during the 1965–1967 Matsushiro earthquake swarm. Scientific Reports, 7. doi: 10.1038/srep44774.

It is open access.

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