A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Acapulco, Mexico on Wednesday. After the quake, Mexicans shared videos of blue lights sweeping across the sky. Getty Images / Getty Images Hide caption
Getty Images / Getty Images
Getty Images / Getty Images
Mexicans share spectacular videos of flashes of blue light streaking the sky when a powerful earthquake struck the country’s Pacific coastal city of Acapulco on Wednesday.
The 7.0 magnitude quake struck about 18 kilometers northeast of the resort in the southwestern state of Guerrero. At least one person was killed, buildings were damaged, and a major thoroughfare was littered with rockfalls, but the earthquake did not cause major damage.
However, it irritated the nerves.
Felt like Mexico City about 300 kilometers away and lasted almost a minute as residents fled onto the streets as buildings swayed, sidewalks wavy, and blue lights in the sky flickered brightly.
Twitter users posted videos of the blue lightning bolts.
Soon users began to use the hastag “Apocalipsis” which stands for the biblical term for the end of the world, the apocalypse, in Spanish.
It is a phenomenon that occurs fairly regularly
Rutgers University physicist Troy Shinbrot says you shouldn’t worry – the blue lights aren’t a sign that the world is ending.
“If it were, the apocalypse would have happened a thousand years ago when this was first discovered,” Shinbrot said. In an interview with NPR, he said that the phenomenon of so-called earthquake lights has been historically recorded and occurs fairly regularly.
Some scientists believe that the eruption of light or luminosity is caused by the friction of rocks near the earth’s crust, which releases energy into the atmosphere. The flash of light is generated near the planet’s surface.
Trying to recreate the phenomena in his laboratory, Shinbrot says he measured voltage changes similar to those that happen when the earth’s crust slips in an earthquake.
He asks the scientifically curious to put a roll of duct tape in a dark cupboard and quickly peel off a strip. Shinbrot says that a glow of light is emitted. But he warns against bringing Earthquake Lights or EQL and the tape experiment too close, as there is still a lot that scientists don’t know.
There is disagreement about what actually caused the lightning
The US Geological Survey makes this clear on its website: “Geophysicists differ in how far they believe that individual reports of unusual lighting near the time and epicenter of an earthquake actually represent EQL.”
Victor Manuel Cruz Atienza, a seismologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, believes in the phenomenon but says last night’s sky was marked by a lot of electrical activity from a rainstorm.
“We can’t safely relate the earthquake to the light show we saw last night, especially given the rain we experienced,” he told NPR. He said it was difficult for him to tell the difference in several videos he saw on social media.
But both scientists agree that there will likely be more chances of seeing the blue flashes across Mexico’s skies. And many Mexicans point out that it will most likely happen sometime in September. At that time, many of Mexico’s largest quakes occurred, including an 8.2 magnitude quake that struck the state of Oaxaca exactly four years ago on September 7, 2017. The destructive quake in 1985, 8.0 in Mexico City also struck on September 19 of that year.
That led Twitter users to rename the month Septiemble, a combination of “September” and “Tremble” in Spanish.