The little town of Gurdon in southern Arkansas sits atop the Madrid Fault Line and high amounts of quartz crystal. A rare, mysterious glowing light—white, blue, sometimes orange or green—has been seen continually floating near Interstate 30. While local legend attributes the light to the lantern of a railroad worker’s ghost, it’s possible the phenomenon is due to the piezoelectric effect.
According to Atlas Obscura, “Piezoelectricity is generated by materials such as certain ceramics and crystals, which when bent or squeezed generate electricity and sparks”. The underground quartz crystals in the area could be under so much pressure that they emit the spark, which maybe then culminates into the glowing light.
The Gurdon light is always present, but apparently only visible at night. Most people mistake it for a lonely headlight. The light was even featured on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries back in 1994. Sightings have been reported since 1931 but it still remains unconfirmed exactly what causes the light.
Thousands of people have gone to Arkansas in search of the light where it resides about 75 miles from Little Rock, and many found what they were looking for. Some viewers say the light flashes slowly, usually floating 3-4 feet off the ground, and often quickly moves and then vanishes.
Another theory behind the Gurdon light is swamp gases– given decomposing vegetation in the wooded area can spontaneously combust. However, the light has been spotted even when the weather is windy, which makes the gases theory unlikely. Whether the orb comes from piezoelectricity or swamp gases, science cannot explain how the current gathers into a ball and migrates off the ground.
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