A NZ Earthquake’s Lightshow

by

Fishermen See Flashes of Light as Quake Hits Port
Lyttleton,  New Zealand,
From: The Press*
By Paul Gorman

Gary Vallance, Photo: Stacy Squires

Light show: While fishing on Lyttelton Harbour on June 13 Gary Vallance saw blue lights flashing in the water at the precise time the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck.

Flashes of blue light in the deep waters of Lyttelton Harbour mystified the four occupants of a fishing boat on June 13.
Heading back to port after a largely unsuccessful trip in search of groper, Christchurch engineer Gary Vallance and three friends experienced the 2.20pm magnitude-6.3 earthquake from a different perspective in their seven-metre boat.
They did not feel the magnitude-5.6 quake at 1pm, when they were in deeper water near Pigeon Bay.
However, Vallance put their lack of fishing success down to the shake and unexpected swells.
“We were about halfway up the harbour between the heads and Lyttelton when the second one hit,” he said.
“I was looking out the front of the boat and I saw a couple of blue
flashes down in the water
was definitely a flash, a dim blue flash.
“Almost immediately, the boat shuddered and the guy driving it wondered what the bell it was. He thought he’d run into something.
“Then we saw all  rocks coming down the hillsides.
“The blue flashes were about 100 metres to the side of the vessel and shot from left to right in a straight line across us. Then the next minute it was like the boat hit something.”

He wondered if the flickering blue light was the result of friction from rocks on the harbour bottom grinding together as the quake struck.
Canterbury University geological sciences professor Jarg Pettinga said what they saw was possibly the effects of the energy of the P-wave (primary wave) moving through the water.
“The shockwave may have released some bubbles of gas from sediment or it may be something to do with the way the light was interfering wiht the water as the seismic wave was coming through.”

* The Press is an excellent newspaper, and their coverage of the earthquake through it all, has been fantastic. If you’d like to keep up on the latest earthquake news please visit their website, or if you’re on the South Island, purchase a copy.

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