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Sometimes the lights are as big as cars and can float around for up to 2 hours. Other times they zip down the valley before suddenly fading away. Then there are the blue and white flashes that come and go in the blink of an eye, and daytime sightings that look like metallic objects in the sky.
The unique geology of the valley could be responsible for this plasma. The valley is formed by rocks on one side rich in copper and the other rich in iron and zinc—not unlike the cathode and anode of a battery. Sulfuric acid, leached from the abandoned sulfur mine at the bottom of the valley, could then turn the river into the weak acid of an electrolyte. But where does the charge to energize plasma come from?
Agreed that is a very low voltage, and while it's well known that higher voltages can create atmospheric plasma, I'm not sure how it could happen with only 1.5 volts. Also some characteristics of the phenomenon like the fact it can hang around a while, don't seem consistent with what little we know about ball lightning being relatively short-lived.
originally posted by: korkythecat
The only problem with the giant battery theory I can see, is that if a single leclanche style cell is formed, it would have a potential difference of around 1.5 volts !
originally posted by: freelance_zenarchist
Perhaps someone with a subscription to New Scientist can answer my question.
What happens if an observer moves closer to the lights?