Planet Earth

Eerie lights in the sky of Morocco. Seismologists expect an earthquake of magnitude above 8 as the latest disaster may be just the beginning

The number of victims of the devastating earthquake in Morocco is constantly growing. As of Sunday evening, the country’s authorities announced a figure of 2,122 dead. One of the most famous cities in the country, Marrakech, suffered the most. The epicenter was 72 kilometers southwest of it.

Meanwhile, videos of blue flashes that appeared in the sky of Morocco a few minutes before the earthquake began are circulating on the Internet. They say the same ones were observed before the devastating cataclysm in Turkey in February of this year.

This hasn’t happened for 123 years

The disaster occurred on September 8 at 23:11 local time. Tremors were felt in many cities in Morocco, as well as in Spain, Portugal, Algeria and other countries.

The source of the earthquake was located at a depth of 18.5 kilometers. The magnitude was estimated at 6.9. It has become the strongest in this region over the past 123 years. According to eyewitnesses, the shock lasted about 20 seconds, and after 19 minutes there was another, much weaker one.

The earthquake caused widespread destruction. Marrakech’s historical landmarks were damaged and the city walls, which date back to the 12th century, were damaged.

Videos are being circulated on social networks in which “mystical rays” flash and luminous balls fly, which allegedly appeared in the sky of Morocco a few minutes before the earthquake began. The same ones were recorded before the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria on February 6 of this year. There is an opinion that these flashes are caused by tension in the earth’s rocks just before it is released: because of it, the air ionizes, causing it to glow.

Skeptics believe that all these luminous balls are nothing more than lit “Chinese lanterns” that were launched into the sky.

But in fact, no one can give a definitive explanation for these ethereal lights and whether they are a natural precursor to such cataclysmic events.

The following video, which seems to have been taken hours before the earthquake, makes a special impression, with its narrator saying that he is in Marrakech, even inviting his followers to write him in the comments possible explanations for the small lights he sees in the sky:

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This unusual sight was seen in the skies over southern Spain and happened on the same night as the earthquake in Morocco:

Although the phenomenon of atmospheric glow before strong earthquakes has indeed been described in the scientific literature, there have been no serious scientific studies of this effect.

It seems that when “lights” appear en masse over the areas hit by an earthquake, they do not come to help but to harvest from the earth and humans die.

What is remarkable about the area where the earthquake occurred?

The epicenter of the earthquake was in the Atlas Mountains. This is an inland mountain belt that stretches from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Mediterranean coast of Tunisia.

Part of North Africa has long been known as a seismically active zone where the African and Eurasian plates meet. Their collision leads to earthquakes. From time to time they happen there, including such powerful ones as the present one. For this region, a seismic event of magnitude 6.9 is really strong.

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Not only Morocco is at risk, but also countries that enjoy tourist demand such as Egypt and Tunisia. In principle, it includes the entire Mediterranean coast of Africa and the Atlantic coast of Morocco. All of these are seismically active areas.

How often do events of this magnitude happen?

Although for this area an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 is strong and unique, on a planetary scale it is ordinary. Seismic statistics say the following: Earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.0-6.9 occur on average 125-130 per year. That is, there are about 10 of them per month on Earth! It’s just that many of them go unnoticed by ordinary people, since they occur in the ocean or where no one lives. Earthquakes happen every day in huge numbers.

There are 17-18 earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0-7.9 every year. In February of this year, there were just such in Turkey, in terms of energy they were 30 times stronger than what happened in Morocco.

Finally, on average there is one seismic event per year on the planet with a magnitude greater than 8. This year this has not happened yet, and sooner or later it must happen somewhere.

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Then nature itself will determine what to do as the earthquake in Morocco may be just the beginning

Nobody in the scientific world makes forecasts of specific seismic events indicating the location, time and their strength – this is impossible, science has not learned to predict them. The knowledge about the structure of the planet’s interior is not enough.

On August 20, the satellites recorded six gamma-ray bursts in a row, which had never happened before, after which on August 25 everything happened again, but there were as many as nine bursts. 

The probability of an earthquake after this is at least 75%, so two weeks passed and it went off like a time bomb. The only question is: was there a response to the first gamma series on September 9, or did two already work at once? Or maybe this is just the beginning? 

Let’s see what the USGS says and shows:

As you can see, three M7.0s occurred in the area of ​​September 7-9, and before that there was a whole sequence of M6.0s. That is, the planet reacts to gamma-ray bursts, and quite actively. Therefore, next we see two options. 

The first option is very optimistic. It assumes a further increase in M7.0 around the world; there will be dozens of such earthquakes in the coming weeks. As a result, the released energy will be distributed more or less evenly across the planet, and there will not be a major catastrophe. 

The second option involves a one-time voltage release. It could be M9.0 or the explosion of some large volcano. In this case, let’s hope that it will strike somewhere along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge or near Antarctica, that is, in uninhabited places, although the probability of this, of course, is quite small. 

There are maps obtained during the implementation of one global seismic project to assess seismic hazard in the 1990s. They indicate zones with possible accelerations of the earth’s surface caused by the passage of elastic seismic waves. For the zone in Morocco where this earthquake occurred, the possible acceleration is indicated as 0.2 g, i.e. 2 m/s2. In fact, this is not a “red zone” as it does not shake constantly and violently but you should always be prepared for earthquakes.

Nevertheless, some energy remains. And then nature itself determines what to do.

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