Central Mexico was rocked by a powerful 8.1-magnitude earthquake on Thursday, September 7th. The earthquake is officially the strongest to hit the nation in over a century, wounding scores of people and killing dozens. The death toll is expected to rise once recovery efforts get underway, however. The tremor lasted around two minutes and was powerful enough that officials issued a tsunami warning in the aftermath, cautioning that waves could reach up to three meters higher than tide level.
While (hopefully) nobody enjoys witnessing such a loss of life and destruction of property, the earthquake has caught the attention of mystery seekers thanks to being accompanied by one of nature’s enduring mysteries: earthquake lights. During this recent Mexican earthquake, strange green flashes lit up the sky. A video of the lights was posted to Twitter by user Herbetuz Maximuz who cited the lights as the work of “Aliens.”
Throughout history, eyewitnesses have reported seeing strange lights and flashes in the sky during, before, or just after earthquakes. One recent theory proposes that these mysterious lights could be the result of electrical discharges caused by friction between piezoelectric crystal deposits deep within the earth, although empirical evidence for this theory is hard to come by. Whatever the cause might be, such earthquake lights are fairly common.
While some of the flashes in this video of the Mexican earthquake appear to have terrestrial origins, likely exploding transformers or other electrical explosions, some of them do indeed appear to originate from the sky. Furthermore, reports of earthquake lights date back centuries long before the advent of electrical grids, so these explanations can't be used in every earthquake lights scenario.
Like many natural phenomena, there is still much we don’t know about seismic activity. Aside from strange eerie lights, earthquakes are often accompanied by strange, otherworldly noises without explanation. Will we ever fully understand the planet we live on? Sure, the vocabulary might change over time, but are scientific explanations really any better than ancient folklore? Science, after all, was invented by mankind in order to give us answers we want. Wonder at the mysterious world we live in might be a natural part of human existence.