Methane and phosphine, a mix of phosphorus and hydrogen, were found in waterways near the Mekong. These gaseous substances were believed to cause the fiery balls, researchers said, though they were not sure exactly how or why they occur. Plant and animal remains release methane as they break down which probably combines with chemical fertiliser, containing phosphorus nutrient, used on farms in the area, to cause the fireballs. The soil in the riverbed is rich with the element.
However, the occurrence of crimson balls also required energy and microbes, which researchers cannot explain.
Mr Saksit called inexplicable aspects of the display a miraculous event while Mr Pinit predicted the study would cause him more headaches. He still did not know why the fireballs tended to emerge only on the full moon night of the 11th lunar month every year.
Authorities from Vientiane Municipality’s Pak Ngum district and the Lao National Authority have prepared sites along the banks of the Mekong River and its tributary, the Nam Ngum, for tourists to view the fireballs rising from the currents tomorrow night, an official said yesterday.
Pak Ngum, where the Nam Ngum river meets the Mekong, is located some 50 kilometres south of the Laotian capital and opposite Nong Khai’s Phon Pisai district. Although it has no hotels, residents are willing to provide home stays for tourists, said an official at the Pak Ngum district office.
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