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What are earthquake lights?

Luminous phenomena reported in association with earthquakes are termed earthquake lights (EQL) if they are thought to be an effect on the natural environment of some physical process associated with the generation of seismic rupture or the propagation of seismic waves.  Geophysicists differ on the extent to which they think that individual reports of unusual lighting near the time and epicenter of an earthquake actually represent EQL:  some doubt that any of the reports constitute solid evidence for EQL, whereas others think that at least some reports plausibly correspond to EQL.  Phenomena reported as EQL include effects similar to sheet lightning, balls of light, streamers, and steady glows.  Physics-based hypotheses have been proposed to explain specific classes of EQL reports, such as those in the immediate vicinity of the causative fault at the time of a major earthquake.