#NewsBytesExplainer: What are earthquake lights and why Delhi saw them
On March 21, Tuesday, strong tremors were felt across North India, including Delhi NCR, as an earthquake with magnitude 6.5 struck Afghanistan's Hindu Kush. Soon, the internet was flooded with viral videos featuring unusual, color-changing lights occurring in the Delhi skies as the tremors jolted the region. Called earthquake lights, this event is still being studied as it isn't a well-defined phenomenon.
The lights were spotted a few minutes after the earthquake
After the earthquake shook Delhi NCR, social media was overwhelmed with videos capturing the night sky changing its colors. From purple and blue to green, orange, and pink, it transitioned from one color to another in a matter of seconds! "Looks a bit like Northern Lights," said a netizen who took to Twitter to share a video of the same.
Look at the shades of the night sky
Let's understand what are earthquake lights
Earthquake lights are aerial phenomena that appear in the sky near the areas where tectonic disturbances occur. They also take place where there is seismic stress or a volcanic eruption. As per the United States Geological Survey, this event may be observed as glows, balls of light, streamers, or sheet lighting in the sky. The same was spotted in Delhi NCR.
Geophysicists have no clue as to why they occur
Bizzare as it may sound, scientists across the world have no strong evidence as to why these lights occur. There are multiple theories, hypotheses, models, and assumptions about them, and the research on their occurrence is still ongoing. While some believe that they are intense magnetic fields created owing to tectonic movements, others think they are a result of oxygen's ionization to oxygen anions.
Why were these lights seen in Delhi during the earthquake?
Of the many theories, the most popular one is that earthquake lights are caused due to high stress before and during an earthquake. During the calamity, ions are formed and travel up through cracks and rocks. And as they reach our atmosphere, they create a plasma that generates colors. They are assumed as a possible earthquake indicator in the region they show up.
Have these lights been spotted somewhere else before?
A similar occurrence happened in Turkey before it was joggled with a massive earthquake earlier this year. A strong blue light was seen in its sky for the first time, causing panic among people before the natural calamity took place. The same took place last year in Japan as its sky lit up in blue and red before the country experienced a 7.3-magnitude earthquake.