Paranormal and Geology

One of the factors that paranormal researchers often look at these days is the geology of an area where something weird has been reported. This is particularly so with ghosts, which appear repeatedly in the same place. Some researchers have suggested there could be a link between paranormal reports and geology. Even without such ideas, geology is always worth recording, since no one knows exactly what causes haunting. Given that hauntings are place-related, geology is one of many geographical factors to consider.

The most popular idea linking geology and reports of the paranormal is the Tectonic Strain Theory. Essentially, the Tectonic Strain Theory (TST) states that stresses within the Earth’s crust, less than those required to produce an earthquake, may result in highly localized surface electromagnetic disturbances through piezoelectricity (or some other mechanism) in sub-surface rocks. Piezoelectricity is the phenomenon whereby certain crystals, notably quartz, produce an electric charge across opposite crystal faces when under physical pressure or strain.

It is hypothesized that the electric and magnetic fields produced by such rock strain will be commonest near geological faults (see right). These cracks in the Earth’s crust are, like cracks in most objects, signs of strain and movement.

Quartz generally occurs underground within other rocks, like granite. The quartz crystals are separated from each other by other minerals. If you crush granite, an electric charge will build up across individual quartz crystals. However, since the crystals are orientated randomly, the electric charges (which occur on opposite sides of each crystal) do not align. Therefore, they tend to cancel each other out rather than combining to form a strong overall electric field. So simple strain seems unlikely to produce significant electromagnetic fields above ground through piezoelectricity. If the rocks actually fracture, however, during an earthquake for instance, you well might get electromagnetic fields produced by seismoelectric conversion. Some earthquakes have indeed been accompanied by weak but measurable magnetic disturbances.

A scientist called Friedemann Freund has suggested that electric charges could be induced to flow by applying unusual pressure (through tectonic  stress) to igneous rocks (normally insulators) turning them into semi-conductors. When the rocks are turned temporarily into semiconductors, holes (positively charged discontinuities) can flow rapidly through the rocks and might even reach the surface. The charges are conducted around underground both by rocks, in their semi-conductor state, and by water. This may be the mechanism behind earthquake lights. The theory is still being developed but it looks promising.

Field researchers are therefore advised to examine local geology (particularly the presence of faults and igneous rocks, such as granite, diorite, gabbro, basalt, etc.) thoroughly in their investigations and see if any magnetic disturbances detected can be traced to an underground source.


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