May 13, 2008

from YouTube Website




Bizarre glowing cloud phenomenon in the sky was observed about 10 minutes before the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake took place. This was recorded in Meixian, Shaanxi province ~550km northeast of epicenter. The phenomenon was said to last for about 1 min.



A map showing two locations where such clouds were sighted relative to Sichuan earthquake epicenters: 


See similar clouds appeared ~200km west of this location:


Photos (reported taken 1 hr before the quake):





These clouds seemed to be glowing or somewhat luminous and seemed to resemble some characteristics of the Auroras. I am not sure exactly what they were or whether they indeed had anything to do with the quake. I am no expert anyways.


See if any scientists are willing to give a full explanation. If such phenomenon can be proved for its connection with earthquake occurrences, maybe they could be used as warning signs and would be life saving. If not, just learn these clouds as yet another rare atmospheric phenomenon and no need to panic when seeing them.


After all, this might well be just a rare atmospheric phenomenon occurred by coincidence. Though, just wondering if there's any possibility the formation of such rare clouds be catalyzed by any event??


I guess some of you might find the following articles interesting.




Curious Cloud Formations Linked to Quakes
by Lynn Dicks

From issue 2651 of New Scientist magazine

11 April 2008

from EnvironmentNewscientist Website

CAN unusual clouds signal the possibility of an impending earthquake?


That's the question being asked following the discovery of distinctive cloud formations above an active fault in Iran before each of two large earthquakes occurred.

Geophysicists Guangmeng Guo and Bin Wang of Nanyang Normal University in Henan, China, noticed a gap in the clouds in satellite images from December 2004 that precisely matched the location of the main fault in southern Iran. It stretched for hundreds of kilometers, was visible for several hours and remained in the same place, although the clouds around it were moving. At the same time, thermal images of the ground showed that the temperature was higher along the fault. Sixty-nine days later, on 22 February 2005, an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 hit the area, killing more than 600 people.

In December 2005, a similar formation again appeared in the clouds for a few hours. Sixty-four days later, an earthquake of magnitude 6 shook the region (International Journal of Remote Sensing, vol 29, p 1921).

Guo and Wang suggest that an eruption of hot gases from inside the fault could have caused water in the clouds to evaporate. Another idea is that ionization may be involved: Friedemann Freund at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, recently demonstrated that when rocks are squeezed, positively charged ions form in the air above.


The trouble is that ions usually help to form clouds, not dissipate them.

The authors say that if recognizable cloud formations precede large quakes, they could be used for prediction, but other seismologists are skeptical.

"There is no physical model that explains why something would suddenly occur two months before an earthquake, and then shut off and not occur again," says Mike Blanpied of the US Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program.




Earthquake Light
from Wikipedia Website

An earthquake light is an unusual luminous aerial phenomenon, similar in appearance to the aurora borealis, that allegedly appears in the sky at or near areas of tectonic stress, seismic activity or volcanic eruptions. Scientific evidence for the presence of lights is unreliable, given that there are few references documenting the phenomenon.



The lights are most evident in the middle period of an earthquake, although there are reports of lights that occurred after or quite often before the earthquake, such as before the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. They usually have shapes similar to those of the auroras with white to bluish hue, but occasionally they have been reported to have a wider color spectrum. The luminosity is typically visible for several seconds, but there have been cases in which they lasted tens of minutes. In the 1930 Idu earthquake, lights were reported up to 70 miles from the epicenter [1], although most lights are not so far away.

There have also been cases in which electromagnetic waves caused by the earthquake interfered with radio transmissions, such as during the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960.

Distinguishing earthquake lights from other transient optical phenomena can be difficult during the chaos of a tremor. For example, a bluish-white flashes that are accompanied by loud bangs or hissing during an earthquake are more likely the result of electrical arcing in power lines or transformers.


However, in some videos, the light can be seen as a long flash in the night high in the sky[2].



Records of earthquakes that were accompanied by lights can be found as far back as 373 BC in ancient Greek writings, that "immense columns of flame" foretold the earthquake that destroyed the cities of Helike and Boura. However, even in the early 20th century they were still considered a myth, despite an investigation of lights seen during the 1930 Idu earthquake by researchers from Tokyo University,[3] until photographs of actual lights were taken in Japan in the 1960s.

The night before the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, many people in Tangshan reported seeing strange lights.

In Peru's earthquake that occurred south of Lima on August 15, 2007, earthquake lights could be seen across the Lima sky before and during the earthquake. Several videos were taken. [4]

On May 12, 2008, 30 minutes prior to the Sichuan Earthquake, a cell phone captured footage of multi-colored clouds in the sky[1]. The footage was uploaded to Youtube[5]. There is also footage from Meixian, Shaanxi,[6] approximately 550km northeast of the epicenter, recorded 10 minutes before the earthquake. However, the footage appears to show a circumhorizontal arc, which is caused by refraction of the sun's light through ice particles in a cirrus cloud, similar to a rainbow.


Earthquake lights were also spotted in Tianshui, Gansu[7][8], approximately 400 km north-northeast of the epicenter.



The precise mechanism, if such a phenomenon exists—as opposed to being coincidence with aurora or mistaken recall after a traumatic event such as an earthquake—is unknown. One theory suggests that earthquake lights are a form of plasma discharge caused by the release of gases from within the Earth and are electrically charged in the air.

Another possible explanation is local disruption of the Earth's magnetic field and/or ionosphere in the region of tectonic stress, resulting in the observed glow effects either from ionospheric radiative recombination at lower altitudes and greater atmospheric pressure or as aurora. However, the effect is clearly not pronounced or notably observed at all earthquake events and is yet to be directly experimentally verified.

Another explanation involves intense electric fields created piezoelectrically by tectonic movements of rocks containing quartz[9].

Some similar clouds have been reported during nuclear tests [10] and Radon is likely to be an earthquake precursor[11], so another theory is that glowing clouds might be light emission produced by Nuclear reactions or ionization and plasma-chemical reactions[12]



  1.  Lane, F. W. The Elements Rage (David & Charles 1966), pp175-6

  2.  Earthlights on Peru’s Earthquake? Editor: Kentaro Mori, August 17th, 2007,

  3.  Lane, F. W. The Elements Rage (David & Charles 1966), pp175-6


  5.  Colorful clouds spotted in Tianshui, Gansu province, 30 minutes before the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

  6.  Colorful clouds spotted in Meixian, Shaanxi province, 10 mins before the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

  7.  "Buddha's Halo" appears at Nanguo Temple (Chinese). Tianshui Online (2008-05-12). Retrieved on 2008-05-20.

  8.  Paul Simons (2008-03-15). Glowing lights around an earthquake's epicentre. Times Online. Retrieved on 2008-05-20.

  9.  Takaki, Shunji and Ikeya, Motoji, A Dark Discharge Model of Earthquake Lightning, Japanese Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 37, Issue 9A, pp. 5016 (1998)


  11.  Richon P., Sabroux J.-C., Halbwachs M., Vandemeulebrouck J., Poussielgue N., Tabbagh J., Punongbayan R. (2003), Radon anomaly in the soil of Taal volcano, the Philippines: A likely precursor of the M 7.1 Mindoro earthquake (1994), Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 30, Issue 9, pp. 34-1

  12. Ground radon exhalation, an electrostatic contribution for upper atmospheric layers processes



Earthquake cloud

from Wikipedia Website

Earthquake clouds are clouds claimed to be signs of imminent earthquakes. The analyses of earthquake clouds as a form of earthquake prediction are generally not accepted by seismologists and other scientists.

In chapter 32 of his work Brihat Samhita, Indian scholar Varahamihira (505 – 587) discussed a number of signs warning of earthquakes: Unusual animal behavior, astrological influences, underground movements of water, and extraordinary clouds occurring a week before the earthquake.

Since 1994, Zhonghao Shou, a retired Chinese chemist living in New York, has made dozens of earthquake predictions based on cloud patterns in satellite images, and claims to have a 70% accuracy. Stress and friction in the ground can vaporize water long before the earthquake happens, according to Shou, and clouds formed through these mechanisms are distinctively shaped.


He has identified five different types of earthquake cloud, including "line-shaped", "feather-shaped", and "lantern shaped" clouds. He claims that an earthquake will take place within 103 days of the appearance of one of these clouds, and that the average time is 30 days. On December 25, 2003, one day before the Bam earthquake, he predicted an earthquake of mag. 5.5+ within 60 days over a fault line in Iran.


Due to this correct prediction, in May 2004, he was invited to a workshop by the UN and the Iranian Space Agency, with meteorologists, geologists, and seismologists present. Some of the scientists present, including Ansari Amoli, believe this is an area worthy of serious study. However, a large majority of seismologists do not believe that there is a direct correlation between the earthquakes and cloud forms[1].

Historical records have indicated a possible correlation between clouds and earthquakes in the ancient civilizations of Rome, India, and China.

Earthquake clouds were spotted before the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.[2][3]


  1. The Cloudspotter's Guide, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, 2006, ISBN 0-340-89589-6

  2. Bizarre phenomenon photographed 1 hour before the quake (Chinese). The Epoch Times (2008-05-14). Retrieved on 2008-05-20.

  3. "Buddha's Halo" appears at Nanguo Temple (Chinese). Tianshui Online (2008-05-12). Retrieved on 2008-05-20.