The Tectonic Strain Theory (TST)

The Tectonic Strain Theory


David Calvert


The basis of this theory is that forces generated within the Earth’s crust give rise to anomalous luminous phenomena (ALP), and their contemporary equivalent UFOs, the major source of these phenomena being tectonic stress.

The suggestion is that heat is generated when the Earth’s tectonic plates rub together and that any water held in the surrounding rock is vaporised. This then becomes ionised and forms an insulating sheath around the fault, forcing the charge above ground. The air above the fault also becomes ionised, creating a luminous plasma of ionised gas above the fault, which appears as a floating ball of glowing light or ALP.


Tagish Lake A.L.Ps.

It was the renowned student of the anomalous, Charles Fort (1874-1932), who was among the first to note that strange ‘meteors’ seemed to coincide with earthquakes and tremors. In the 1960s the French researcher, Ferdinand Lagarde focussed tightly on the connection between the fault lines and UFOs and discovered that at least 40% of reported low-level UFO activity occurred over, or close to, fractures in the earth’s crust.

In 1997, two years after earth-mysteries researchers Paul Devereux and Andrew York published their findings of a survey in which they discovered significant meteorological anomalies of ‘strange lightning’ and UFO sightings occurring



frequently over fault-line regions, Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist and geologist at Laurentian University in Canada, together with Gyslaine Lafrenière, published their study of United States earthquake epicenters and noted a strong correlation between these and high levels of UFO activity. They came to see UFOs as electromagnetic phenomena arising from the vast energy released through the structural distortion of the earth’s crust that often preceded full-blown earthquakes.


Both scientists envisioned fields of naturally occurring forces operating evenly, and without significant effect, over very large regions. But they also felt these regions could become focussed in a few small areas of particular geological resistance or instability to produce strange airborne lights. Thus the first public airing of what ufologists now term Tectonic Strain Theory or TST was given. However, Devereux believes the phenomenon is still not fully understood. His opinion is that the lights are triggered by a chain reaction of electrical forces in the atmosphere and in the earth’s crust – not solely by seismic activity. The combination of these factors create stress fields of magnetic and electrical energies that produce ALPs, such as the fireball photographed at Long Valley, New Jersey, in 1976.

The evidence for this theory is evident in the spatial and temporal relationship between UFO reports and seismicity. Retrospective studies strongly suggest a rapid onset of ALP and UFO reports take place approximately 10 days before a strong and unexpected earthquake. Where six-month increments of analyses were employed, the correlation was almost always statistically significant, showing a strong relationship between UFOs and seismic events.

It was the events in Hessdalen, Norway, that really put the ALP on the ufology agenda. In November 1981, people began to see strange lights in the sky, just below the summits and ridges of the surrounding mountains. These white and yellow-white lights took on the appearance of spheres, ‘bullets’ with pointed end downwards, and inverted ‘Christmas tree’ shapes. Reports also included flashes in the sky and curious rumbling sounds (seismic activity?).

hessdalen lights

In the 1970s the Yakima Indian Reservation, Washington State, was visited by huge orange fireballs that were seen floating above rocks, accompanied by smaller ‘pingpong’ balls of lights, which danced along the ridges. These lights were often seen in the vicinity of the ridges that ran across a zone riddled with fault lines and with Status Peak the site of a surface rupture. Seven months later the biggest earthquake in the area occurred.

Some years later, 52 observations of light phenomena were logged by Quebec University researchers in the Sanguenay-Lake St. John region of southeast Canada, between November 1988 and 21st January, 1989. fireballs metres in diameter were seen repeatedly popping out of the ground – some only a few metres away from the observers. Both stationary and moving balls of light were seen several hundreds of metres in the air, some lasting up to 12 minutes. Once again these UFO-type phenomena were associated with rising tectonic strain leading up to local earthquakes.

Also in 1989, geochemist Paul McCartney published a report of his investigation into earthlights activity in northwest Wales in 1904-5. He discovered that these lights followed the course of the deep-rooted Mochras Fault. Significantly, the outbreak of these lights occurred during a spate of earthquakes in various parts of Wales between 1892 and 1906. An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale brought the lights back briefly in July 1984. This occurred in the Lleyn Peninsula, one of Britain’s most seismic active areas – and epicentre.

The possible link between ALP and UFOs has caused a schism in the ufological community. Advocates of the ET spacecraft theory fail to see how small lights can explain ‘solid body’ craft seen in daylight. In reply, the TST researchers contend that popocatapetyl lightsthe lights can sometimes reach ‘standard’ flying saucer sizes. What is more, if ALP are some kind of plasma (hot, electrically charged gas), then they would also appear shiny and metallic in daylight. It would certainly explain the ‘silvery discs’ reported by many in Mexico during a prolonged UFO ‘flap’. Here, geomagnetic anomalies and dancing lights have been recorded increasingly around the active volcano, Popocatepetl.

TS theorists have speculated that such physical properties should reflect some fundamental feature of the local earth’s crust and the medium through which the ALP is generated. For example: sulphide-based ores would be expected to generate sulphuroxide or methyl sulphonamide (the smell added to propane gas), correlative quartz dioritewith the LP. Reports of ‘residual radiation’ might well be the product of acidious quartz diorite, which promotes the release of the relatively common radioactive gas, raydon. Enhanced gas emissions and chemiluminescence have been postulated to generate at least some types of earthquake lights. It should be expected, therefore, that measurable residues of LP, when they touch the ground, should reflect the primary constituents of crustal material. The few metallurgical analyses that have been conducted have borne this out, revealing oxidised forms of the most frequent elements of common rocks such as silica, manganese, and aluminium. Quantitative estimates indicate that only a few grams of metal, scattered along a strong electromagnetic surface, would appear as ‘metallic’.


The X Factor (1997), issue 23: Marshall Cavendish Ltd. Persinger, M. A. & Lafrenière, G.F. (1997), Space-time transients and unusual events. Nelson Hall, Chicago.

Devereux, P. (1989), Earth Lights Revelation. Blandford, London.

Derr, J. S. & Persinger, M. A. (1986), Experientia Hedevari, P. & Noszticzius, Z. (1985), Annales Geophisicae.

© David Calvert 2011

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2 thoughts on “The Tectonic Strain Theory (TST)

  1. Pingback: Erdbebenlichter: Case Closed oder neue Pseudo-Theorie? @ gwup | die skeptiker

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