Martin Chapman, director of the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory and research assistant professor of geosciences in the College of Science, reported Friday afternoon, Jan. 6, that the West Virginia digital seismic station recorded a seismic event at the time of the explosion at the Sago Mine on Jan. 2 that correlates with lightning strikes in that area.

Numerous lightning strikes were recorded by Weatherbug, a provider of weather information via a network of 8,000 stations across the U.S. "We have a lightening network," explains Bob Marshall, CEO of the WeatherBug United States Precision Lightning Network. "When we saw that these events were near Sago, we called the US Geological Survey, who referred us to Martin Chapman at Virginia Tech. Martin then checked the seismic station readings for the time of the lightning strike."

Chapman emphasizes that the findings do not confirm lightning was the cause, but does provide more information for investigators of the tragedy. Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory (VTSO) staff are looking for additional information from other stations on the VTSO seismic network.

WeatherBug plans to post an image on their web site.

Update, Jan. 10: VTSO now has readings from two West Virginia stations on the seismic network. Chapman emphasizes that it is too early to draw conclusions about the cause of the explosion and he and others continue to gather and analyze data.