If You See These Lights, Leave the Area ASAP
We’re headed to the Middle East. There’s a large desert there, and it’s completely dark. Except for one spot — a big circle that glows with a bright orange light — the Darvaza Crater. And it’s basically just a giant gas burner. Years ago, geologists found gas here, and they started mining for it. But when they excavated, they came across a void underground. The void collapsed, and it formed a crater. This crater is as wide as half a soccer field and as deep as a five-story building. Gas began to come out of the cracks in the crater and since animals were often grazing in this area, the geologists decided to set these gas streams on fire to exhaust the source. Geologists thought the fire would be over in a day or two. But if you come here now, you’ll see this gateway to the underworld is still burning. And it’s been going on for almost 50 years.
In 2013, a man descended to the bottom of the burning crater for the first time.
He collected many different samples there, and scientists were able to find bacteria that aren’t found anywhere else on Earth. They’re quite comfortable at the bottom of this endless burning frying pan. In 2009, a man in L’Aquila, Italy saw flickering lights dancing above the stone street. He immediately knew what to do and moved his family to a safer place. Seconds later, a massive 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit the whole region. His knowledge of the strange lights saved his and his family’s lives. So what are these mysterious warnings? For centuries people interpreted the lights as something otherworldly. The scientific community didn’t take them seriously and just attributed them to a false recollection, a mind trick, or pure imagination.
With the introduction of surveillance cameras and smartphones, the amount of evidence grew enormously.
Now the connection was obvious — these lights appear and an earthquake hits. So, experts finally started taking the sight of them seriously, and started digging for the truth. But after years of research, to this day, geologists are still not fully sure about the source, but they have delineated 5 types of light:
- Bright flashes that light up the sky, looking like storm lightning or a strong camera flash.
- Rays in the sky that can look like light columns.
- Different-sized flames that come through the ground.
- Diffused glows over mountains.
- And slow-moving balls of light that can be misinterpreted as ball lightning.
Another equally but little-understood atmospheric phenomenon, these are literal balls of lightning that can float and explode, leaving a sulfuric odor behind. But unlike ball lightning, these spherical EQLs seem to be harmless...if you don’t count what’s coming afterward. With all these types of lights, experts haven’t figured out how exactly they’re connected to earthquakes. They don’t just show up before one hits — some have been reported during and some after earthquakes. They can also appear with other phenomena, like meteorite crashes, volcanic eruptions, or auroras. For now, scientists can only come up with theories to explain the unexplainable...
One of the recent ones claimed the lights were electric lines being broken during an earthquake.
But this theory doesn’t explain how the phenomena was observed hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Like the ancient Chinese tale of dragon-looking clouds appearing in the sky as a warning of an upcoming quake. Or how an ancient Roman historian reported huge flame-like lights bursting out just before a huge earthquake occurred. The electric line theory was quickly dismissed. Another theory suggested it was escaping gas. During an earthquake, the underground rocks expand and shrink under pressure and heat. This opens and closes small spaces between them. Different gasses make their way through these new openings. Radon, for example, can get released during seismic activity. It can ionize the air, making it electrically charged. But radon doesn’t do it enough to create bright sparks of light. This theory is close, but doesn’t quite hit the mark...
One of the most accepted theories is that it might be from electricity traveling up from underground.
When underground igneous rocks (ones that form from magma deep within the Earth) are under stress, they release ionized (or electrically charged) oxygen. It travels through the surface and up into the atmosphere, where it creates a localized electric field. That can produce brief flashes of visible light. Some aren’t even that quick and can go on for minutes at a time! So there you are. You’ve been driving for hours through the night. You haven’t had a chance to sleep yet, so your mind is hanging on by a thread. You stop the car and get out to stretch your limbs. And then you look up into the sky and see a beautiful sunrise. Whoa, wait! There are 3 Suns in the sky! You rub your eyes, but nope. There’re still 3 bright stars in the sky.
No, our home star hasn’t been torn into 3 pieces. Nor has it been visited by 2 other stars.
This is called a sun dog. It occurs mostly during severe frosts. Small ice crystals in the sky bend the light. As a result, you may see 3 bright spots in the sky instead of just one. This phenomenon is officially called a halo. Usually, it’s just a circle around the sun. You can even see a halo at night too. Just look at a street lamp, and you’ll see a bright circle around it. Sometimes, a halo can take on a fancier shape. If there’s a lot of ice in the air, the light gets warped even more. Just like in a room with a dozen mirrors. Then, the halo can take on the shape of a human eye.
Because of this phenomenon, a false dawn can occur too.
While you’re looking at the horizon, the dawn begins, and the edge of the sun appears. A little bit more, and... Wait, the Sun starts to just dissolve in the sky. After a few moments, it’s dark again. And only a minute later, the real Sun shows its face. It was the same light curvature effect you saw before with the 3 Suns. Only now, the light is curved vertically, not horizontally. And instead of the real Sun, its reflection in ice crystals in the sky has appeared.
Moving on. This cloud looks like a dinosaur. And this one looks like a cat. And this... Whoa, it looks like these clouds are falling down! Ah, phew, that’s just a mammatus cloud. Their shape really makes them look like chunks of clouds about to slam to the ground. Well, that’s not going to happen, but you better start seeking cover anyway. These clouds are a sign of a severe thunderstorm coming. It takes a lot of moist air with ice crystals at the top and dry air at the bottom to create these clouds. Then, vertical currents of air appear between the layers. And these currents make the clouds take the shape of a human brain. Mu-wha-ha-ha.
And this giant cloud looks like a dome that’s going to cover an entire city. In fact, that’s exactly what happens. A huge cloud covers a large area and then rains heavily on it. Sometimes, the front of one of these clouds takes on a bizarre shape, like in these pictures. It looks more like several giant spaghetti clouds. Or even giant cloud worms. This phenomenon can often be seen in Australia, and it’s called Morning Glory. It happens because a strong wind twists parts of the cloud on both sides. And then the huge sheet of air dough splits into thick strips.
And sometimes, you can see clouds in the sky made of... Birds. Wow, that cloud moves quickly and changes shape. It becomes more transparent, but then denser and darker again. The birds seem to be involved in some kind of dance or performance. But they’re not doing it for the sake of beauty or for the crowds of spectators gathered below. They’re doing it for protection. When birds group themselves into this kind of “cloud,” they intimidate birds of prey. An eagle or hawk would have a hard time picking out a single target among the endless number of birds. And they move quickly, covering each other. Fish huddle together in schools in the same way. This kind of cloud might just spook a hungry predator.
Grab some sunglasses and you’re good to go. This phenomenon lasts around 40 minutes. These clouds are the same ones that can cause a spooky ring around the moon at night sometimes. Nature sends early signs of disasters in many different ways — J-shaped trees might mean there’s a landslide coming because the ground has started moving slowly, and the trees grow into this shape. Try to find a flat area and avoid going near any trees, unless you have superhuman strength. Another mystical phenomenon can be seen in the desert: a sand waterfall. When the wind brings a lot of sand to the edge of the canyon, it begins to fall down. Now amplify this effect 100 times, and you get sand waterfalls in Saudi Arabia. It really is like Niagara Falls. Only there’s not a drop of water. The locals say this phenomenon warns of an impending sandstorm.