For many people in the world, the belief in paranormal activity is a very normal thing. From hauntings to possessions and everything in between, it seems as though death isn’t always the end. No matter where you live, you can find a house, building, park or something that has a ghost story attached to it. From haunted homes to spooky ships, there are a plethora of locations where many of the deceased call home – even if they didn’t die there. But why? Let’s look at the theories behind the ghostly activity that makes some locations a playground for the paranormal.
Paranormal investigators, researchers and parapsychologists are among the many who have tried to find the answers for the abundance of apparitions in various locales. To look at some of their theories, we are going to look at some places that we have been or heard about California’s Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco, and San Diego Bay, where the Midway, the Star of India and the Berkeley call home. We’ll also examine Italy’s Poveglia Island off the coast of Venice. All five locations have two main things in common: they’ve all had ghostly sightings, and they’re all on the water. So could that water play a part in conducting the paranormal? Maybe. Let's focus on how.
There are many theories about why one place would have more paranormal activity over another: from tectonic strain to stone tape and water. Let’s focus on water first and get a little sciency. The theory here is that water – whether fresh or salt water – conducts electricity, and spirits are a form of energy, and so water makes it easier for said spirits to manifest in our world. How? Well in the case of salt water, 97% of the Earth’s water is salty, and those salt molecules are sodium and chlorine ions, which, when they hit water are pulled apart by the water molecules. It’s these ions that carry electricity through the water. So, the salt water that is under the ships in the San Diego Bay and around Alcatraz and Poveglia islands becomes a strong conductor of paranormal energy and acts like a portal of sorts for the ghosts to get into the ships and prison building. But it’s not just salt water, it can be fresh water and even rain.
It’s all about energies. But it may not just be being near water that makes the ghosts on the ships and Alcatraz active. It could also have something to do with the energy that is given off from fault lines – the Rose Canyon Fault cuts right through the heart of downtown San Diego and through the center of the San Diego Bay; Alcatraz sits almost directly between the Hayward Fault (approximately 8 miles away) and the San Andreas Fault (approximately 6 miles away); and we all know Italy has major quakes, entirely due to the North South Fault Line and the East West Fault Line. Italy sits right on the edge of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, and Poveglia Island gets the effects of the African plate going beneath the Eurasian plate. This energy theory is called the Tectonic Strain Theory, and it’s real simple: The energy that is given off from fault lines is enough to manifest paranormal activity.
So you have water under the ships and around Alcatraz and Poveglia, major fault lines under the water, what else might be down there helping our friends from the other side connect to our world? One theory that is very common, but not well known by its name among the non-paranormal-investigating world, is the Stone Tape Theory. This is the one that suggests that granite, limestone and quartz can be the cause of residual hauntings. This is not a human soul, but it can be thought of as an energy pattern from the past that replays itself under certain conditions. This can take the form of a vision (still or moving picture), sounds, smells, sensations and more. This energy pattern is usually attached to one area or environment and can be experienced by those sensitive enough to notice it. These energies have no consciousness, and so they cannot interact with you.
In regard to what is in the San Diego Bay, according to the USGS, there are many thousands of years of Quaternary marine sediments and cultural activity built up. The surrounding geology of the Bay are mainly sedimentary deposits such as mudstones and sandstones that have accumulated over the past several million years. Sandstone is composed almost entirely of quartz particles. Looking at Alcatraz, the island itself is made up of limestone and sandstone (again, quartz). And under the waters surrounding Poveglia Island, we have 440 million-year-old Ordovician granites, which is mainly made up of quartz.
Different stones mean different things, and granite, quartz and limestone are stones that retain energy. Ok, but how? Well, according to Michael Cardinuto in an article called, “Limestone, Quartz, and Magnetite and Their Ability to Generate a Residual Haunting,” the theory explains that “limestone and quartz act as a sort of recording device for things that happen throughout time around them, storing the information and sounds. Then, when something occurs to release that information [perhaps water running over them or the energies emitted from a nearby fault line], you have a residual haunting.” The history behind the theory’s name is interesting. It comes from a BBC TV show from 1972 called The Stone Tape. In it, a team of paranormal investigators set up shop in an old Victorian house they heard was haunted, and they begin to investigate. During that time, they discover that the stones that make up the walls of the rooms have stored up emotional events from the house’s past and is now replaying them (much to the terror of the investigators).
It could all mean that the water, the rocks and the fault lines could be acting as a beacon, attracting not only recorded memories, but actual spirit energies that have the ability to interact with those still alive. Whether it’s the water, the fault lines or the quartz in the sandstone causing the higher occurrences of paranormal activity, one thing’s for sure: It’s the right recipe for a great ghost story.