Origin Of Earthquake Light Associated With Earthquakes In Christchurch, New Zealand, 2010-2011
Özel Güven, Özden
Coles, Simon J.
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Earthquake light (EQL) mainly blue-white flashes from the ground, was observed coseismically during a New Zealand M7.1 earthquake, (4.47 am 4-Sep-2010 local time). A local production mechanism is most probable. The blue-white flash observations support the Freund et al. mechanism, i.e. shockwave disturbance creating electronic "holes" from ruptured peroxy bonds in quartz, and subsequent surface positive charge from the ground, followed by light emission during neutralization. Examination of video records shows the flash median length is about half a second and needs to be differentiated from the light during electricity supply short circuits. Observed ground-level white colors appear to result from very intense non-specific air ionization. Blue colors seem to be nitrogen emission with a short lifetime, succeeded by green oxygen emissions with longer lifetime followed by much lower intensity red. These were created by transient low-to-moderate voltages and probably include significant UV production. The maximum likely radiation dose is small, restricted to the skin, and equivalent at most to a few months natural background radiation. Calculations confirm the release of Rn-222 is not the major mechanism for creating earthquake light, and would contribute minimal radiation dose. Other unique observations are: streamers of light changing from blue to green as they passed from west to east, vertical sheets of blue-green light from cracks in an asphalt road surface, created by local shockwaves and shearing forces, daylight observation by fishermen of rapid linear undersea travel of blue light seconds before a 2011 M6.0 aftershock, and a mid-day green-blue glow over nearby hills containing a fault zone, shortly before the further destructive M6.3 earthquake, (12.51 pm 22-Feb-2011).