Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ball Lightning, Oilfields and Earthquakes | Valentino Straser

In the Po Valley Plain area of Northern Italy the recurrent appearance of ball lightning has never seemed accidental, as testified by the more than 750 sightings reported between 1900 and 2008 (fat red numbers in map 2). The mechanism that triggers ball lightning is presumed to derive from particular atmospheric conditions and the concomitant presence in the atmosphere of gas and ions, along with other phenomena such as natural radioactivity and electromagnetic anomalies generated, for example, by crust stress.

In the Po Valley Plain the abundance of hydrocarbons has resulted in intense extraction activity which began in the mid 1800s and continued until the 1950s. Nowadays, despite a drastic reduction, extraction of natural gas is still important, currently satisfying 48% of Italy's needs. Manifestations of hydrocarbons, in some cases spontaneous and restricted to a few areas, include the small mud volcanoes scattered along the Apennine belt on the margins of the Po Valley Plain.

Ball lightning has a surface tension that allows it to “float” in the air at different heights, with some staying close to the ground while others rise hundreds of meters from the surface, just as the coloring and shapes that they assume are not always the same. In fact, the combination of gases and free charges underlie the formation of plasmas and plasmoids are closely related to the formation of ball lightning. According to the theory of piezoelectricity certain silicate minerals, such as quartz, produce charged clouds and electric potentials through air ionization when they are subjected to crustal stress. One initial conclusion concerns the difference between areas with hydrocarbon deposits and those subject to tectonic stress.In the first case, the number of sightings is much higher and seems to depend on the dew point. In this situation, ball lightning appears at an apparent height in the order of hundreds of meters. Source: NCGT Journal, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Sep 2016).