And there is an abundance of the former, with a 2014 study noting that aerial luminous phenomena were reported in relation to 65 earthquakes which occurred in Europe and America over a period of 200 years.
These descriptions of earthquake lights vary in their details, with some recalling on-and-of lightning-style flashes, and others minutes-long glows of different colours.
“All of these have been reported by observers,” John Ebel, a seismologist at Boston Collegel told the NYT.
“Which ones are actually true, and which ones are products of their imagination, we can’t really say.”
Update: Morocco Quake Death Toll Exceeds 2,900, 300,000 homeless and one third are children. \ud83d\udc94\n\nSource:https://t.co/2y1F9jceaa\n\nStay safe\ud83d\ude4f\n\nVideo capturing blue light before the earthquake.\n- What I know is that the light comes from a festival.\n#StaySafe #earthquake #Marocco
— World Natural Disaster News (@World Natural Disaster News)
One theory behind the formation of earthquake lights is that they are the result of friction between tectonic plates generating electricity.
However, most experts are unconvinced by this hypothesis, including Dr Daniels.
She told the NYT: “Rock on rock is not a situation where people have been able to generate large charge separation. And so it just doesn’t seem like a very good explanation for what people see.”
Other scientists have suggested electrical arcing from power lines shaken by earthquakes could be responsible for the sky flares.
But Dr Daniels acknowledged it’s still possible that there’s no link at all between the lights and tectonic events.
“We’re comforted by things that we can understand, and we’re scared by things we don’t,” she pointed out.
“I think that’s part of the reason we’re so fascinated by this phenomenon.”