Earthquake Booms, 'Seneca Guns', and Other Sounds - Earthquake "booms" have been reported for a long time, and in the US they tend to occur more in the Northeastern US and along the East Coast. There have been many reports of "booms" that cannot be explained by man-made sources. No one knows for sure, but scientists speculate that these "booms" are probably small shallow earthquakes that are too small to be recorded, but large enough to be felt by people nearby. In New Madrid, Missouri, there are accounts of "artillery-like" sounds that were said to have occurred before or during the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. [Mystery booms coming from deep in the plate boundary were reported in Indonesia for many months before the December 2004 quake and tsunami.]

Meteors exploding in the atmosphere are a possible cause of other unexplained booms, which are sometimes described as skyquakes.

There does not appear to be any agreement on what causes the booms of the 'Seneca guns'. They have been occurring in several places around the eastern U.S. and in India for at least a century or two.


MYSTERY BOOMS reported in 2006 -

12/8/06 - NEW JERSEY - Some people felt the ground shaking Thursday afternoon in South Jersey along the shore. Police took calls and emails from people in Mays Landing, Egg Harbor Township, Marmora, Somers Point, and Ocean City. All of them reported
rumblings, tremors, and loud noises around 12:30 pm, then again at 1:15 pm. Most of the obvious potential causes don't check out. The only major road construction in the area is along the Route 52 causeway, and that's pretty far away for all those people to feel it. The Earthquake Center in Delaware reports absolutely no activity in the region. And the Department of Defense and New Jersey military investigated. Both say no local aircraft caused a sonic boom. But there is the possibility that an aircraft just passing through from a different area could have caused a loud rumbling feeling.

MISSISSIPPI - 12/8/06 - Many Jackson County residents
felt the earth shake and rumble for several seconds Wednesday morning, creating a myriad of suspicions as to what had happened, but officials believe sonic booms from jets may have been the cause. About 10 a.m. two loud noises that shook houses, windows and the ground were reported throughout the county.
Deputies were dispatched but no explosions were reported at any local industries, which prompted officials to then call local airports in
Pascagoula, Gulfport and Mobile, as well as Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and the National Weather Service. Local police departments, including Mobile, and other agencies received numerous calls from citizens about the noise. "It was pretty widespread." Last year, a sonic boom from jets from Pensacola Naval Air Station conducting high-altitude exercises over the Gulf of Mexico caused a
similar quake that was felt in the county. That is what could have happened Wednesday. "That's the only thing we can attribute this one to. We can't find anything on the map." "There was a shake. It felt like an earthquake and then it make a deep bass-like rumbling sound." "We talked to a lot of people and they told us, 'We felt it, we heard it, but we don't know what it was." No official NAS Pensacola representative was available at press time to confirm whether exercises were taking place in the area.

12/5/06 - AUSTRALIA - Authorities are investigating the cause of a large tremor felt across a 70-kilometre stretch of the New South Wales mid-north coast. Emergency call centres were inundated with calls from residents who reported a tremor that shook windows and doors in Taree and surrounding areas. But the Government seismology body, Geo Science Australia, says it was not an earthquake, and the weather bureau says no unusual weather was recorded in the region.

AUSTRALIA - residents along the NSW mid-north coast
began contacting police about 9.30pm (AEDT) and reported their homes shook in a tremor yesterday. "It was felt around Forster, Nabiac and then up as far as Taree, Wingham." A spokeswoman said F/A-18 Hornets, fighter jets, from two squadrons were on low-altitude flying missions Monday night. "We can confirm that there were Hornet F/A-18 aircraft flying over that area." But the spokeswoman would not say whether that was what residents felt and heard when they reported a suspected earthquake. Military aircraft from the Williamtown base fly most nights along the NSW mid-north coast and as far west as Coonabarabran and Mudgee. Weather could amplify the noise.

Unexplained Booms - Residents of Lake Renaissance Circle say they felt a series of jolts Thursday morning, November 2. They say it felt like an explosion followed by tiny booms. Some residents speculate the booms were caused by military planes flying overhead. Another possibility is the so-called "Seneca Guns," the mysterious sounds that seem to come from the ocean.

Possibly related to this story from Virginia? - Tremors from what was believed to be a minor earthquake Thursday in Southwest Virginia were more likely the result of a collapse at an abandoned mine. The event registered magnitude 4.3 and took place about eight miles north-northwest of Raven and about 10 miles northwest of Richlands in Tazewell County. It occurred at 12:53 p.m. Even a minor earthquake of that magnitude would typically trigger "a thousand calls" and normally would be felt as far away as Washington D.C. When the National Earthquake Information Center had only a couple of calls trickle in, seismologists took a closer look. They concluded it was far more likely to have been a mining event, which can sometimes be confused with a temblor. Experts say it may have been a blast, but more likely a ceiling collapse in one of the region's many mines. The state had no reports of the collapse of a working mine nor any reports of unusual mining activity in the area, however.

9/22/06 - NEW ZEALAND - A loud bang accompanying an earthquake centred off Takou Bay on Sunday had some coastal residents checking the sky for a meteor. The 8:34am earthquake 20km east of Kaeo and 20km north of Kerikeri was centred at a depth of 5km and had a magnitude of 3.5 on the Richter scale. Some heard what sounded like a big explosion which shook a stone home at Te Ngaire, rattled windows and moved a picture on a wall.
"At first I thought something had landed on the roof. Some people rushed out of their houses thinking it was something from space like they've been getting in the South Island." Along the road at Te Ngaire, "there was an awful boom and everything vibrated". It had sounded like a door slamming loudly or a gas cylinder exploding. "We thought maybe it was thunder, but it was too abrupt for that - more like a sonic boom." At Matauri Bay, a woman said the bang had sounded "like a quarry blast". The bang was also heard at Kerikeri, where among the suggestions for its cause was: "We thought it might be a P lab blowing up." Another "rattle" was heard much later on Sunday at both Matauri Bay and Te Ngaire, where a Mrs. Sale pointed out a unique anniversary. She said it was 25 years to the day that "a smoky thing" appeared in her home during a major storm. Scientists had investigated and attributed the phenomena to plasma or ionised gas formed by lightning.

8/13/06 - VIRGINIA - Buildings shook and windows rattled with a series of loud booms heard up and down the northern beaches of the Outer Banks shortly before 11 a.m. Tuesday, August 8. "The only thing we can attribute it to is offshore jets. We called the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard and they couldn't run it down."
There was a flurry of calls from the public wanting to know what caused the concussive sounds that felt like an explosion could have gone off somewhere nearby. A military operating area - commonly called an MOA - is located about 25 miles offshore. Jets from the Air Force and Navy conduct practice bombing runs at the range, but none of those aircraft could have been a source. "I promise you, it was nothing we had. If it was a jet, it had to be out over the ocean over the MOA. There was nothing from Nags Head beach west that we were doing that would do anything like that." Pilots are not allowed to break the sound barrier over populated areas.
"This is the first time it's happened in I don't know how long." There were no reports of any damage related to the incident.

4/30/06 - WASHINGTON - A series of explosions that rocked most of the Port Angeles area remains a mystery. Police dispatchers received calls from all around the area the night of the 27th about 11:30pm reporting the series of "booms". But police have been unable to uncover what may have caused the noises. Callers reported a series of five explosions that shook their houses. One caller reported her glass sliding door shattered. No earthquake activity was reported that night in the Port Angeles area.

4/4/06 - CALIFORNIA - the source of a mysterious disturbance that rattled San Diego County on the morning of April 4, shaking windows, doors and bookcases from the coast to the mountains was a sound wave that started over the ocean roughly 120 miles off the San Diego coast and petered out over the Imperial County desert.
That spot is in the general vicinity of Warning Area 291, a huge swath of ocean used for military training exercises. Researchers have charted dozens of similar, if less dramatic, incidents that seem to have originated in the same general area of the ocean. They aren't sure what caused any of them, whether the April 4 disturbance was natural or made by humans. “But it was certainly a big disturbance in the atmosphere.” There was no Navy or Marine Corps flight activity in Warning Area 291 on that day that would have caused a sonic boom or a countywide tremor. The area covers 1 million square miles and is off-limits to civilian planes and ships. “We don't know at this time where this earthquakelike sensation came from.” The disturbance was the result of a low-frequency wave that traveled through the air at the speed of sound as it moved from the ocean to the desert. It was picked up by more than two dozen seismometers in San Diego and eastern Riverside counties.
The wave was felt on San Nicolas Island, northwest of San Clemente Island, at 8:40 a.m. It hit Solana Beach at 8:46 a.m., the western edge of the Cleveland National Forest at 8:47 and the eastern side of the Salton Sea at 8:53 a.m. From there, it appears to have dissipated. The wave moved at 320 meters per second, roughly the speed that sound travels through the air. Its velocity was too slow to be that of an earthquake. The only explanation is that the wave was traveling through the atmosphere, not through the ground. At each location, the wave could be felt for roughly 10 seconds. Several months before the April 4 incident, a team had begun studying other nonquake disturbances that were registering on San Diego County seismometers, including 76 that apparently originated in that same general area of the ocean in 2003. They figured that some of those disturbances surely must have come from offshore military exercises. The researchers haven't been able to determine whether the April 4 wave was more powerful than the earlier ones or whether it simply felt that way because of atmospheric conditions. “I'm told that a sonic boom would not cover that distance at all." Authorities have said a meteor probably wasn't the cause because it would have been noticed by the scientific community. The American Meteor Society reported no fireball sightings over Southern California on that day.

CALIFORNIA - Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography believe they have located the mysterious boom heard and felt in San Diego earlier this month. On the morning of April 4, a loud boom rattled windows and doors in many parts of the county. A team of Scripps scientists said the boom was the result of a sound wave that originated over the ocean about 120 miles west of San Diego. The spot is near an area used by the Navy for military training exercises. The Scripps scientists said that they didn't know if the sonic boom was caused by human activity or a natural phenomena like a meteor exploding in the atmosphere. Military officials said that there was no Navy or Marine Corps fight activity in the training area on April 4. [ SITE NOTE - So we still don't know WHAT caused the boom, only where it seems to have originated from.]

CALIFORNIA - At various spots throughout San Diego County, people reported a rumbling sound or a booming noise shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, and so far no one has come forward with an explanation. Whatever it was, it caused a woman's bed to shake in Lakeside. It created waves in a backyard pool in Carmel Valley. It set off car alarms in Kearny Mesa and rattled windows from Mission Beach to Poway to Vista. “My garage door is double steel and it weighs about 500 lbs. It was rattling back and forth like a leaf in the wind for about 3 or 4 seconds.” Scientists insist it wasn't an earthquake. The Federal Aviation Administration has no record of any planes producing a sonic boom by breaking the sound barrier. Camp Pendleton officials say no activities on the Marine base could have created such a disturbance. There were no large explosions in San Diego County that day, and no meteor fireballs were reported in the sky that morning. What was it, then? Maybe it was the same thing that caused a strange disturbance in Mississippi on April 7, when the locals heard a loud boom that rattled windows all over Jackson County, throwing emergency workers “into a tizzy.” Authorities in that state still don't have a clue as to the cause.
Nor, to this day, can anyone explain what was behind similar episodes in Maine two months ago, or Alabama three months ago, or North Carolina four months ago. In each of those cases – as well as in other incidents around the nation over the years – residents reported hearing windows rattle and feeling floors shake even though no earthquake was detected. [Mobile, Alabama on Jan. 19, 2006: Wilmington, N.C., on Dec. 20, 2005; Winston-Salem, N.C., on March 5, 2005; Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 1, 2003; and Pensacola, Fla., on Jan. 13, 2003.]


This time they're in California
- San Diegans are wondering what's behind a series of mysterious booms heard across the county Tuesday morning. The booms were heard at around 8:45 a.m. and rattled residents, causing a flood of calls to sheriff's dispatchers. No measurable seismic activity was recorded in San Diego County Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Local military officials had no reports of a sonic boom happening. Marines at Camp Pendleton conducted mortar training Tuesday morning, but officials say they were unaware if the noise was a result.

3/24/06 - CANADA - British Columbia - Possibly a meteorite - A loud explosion in Burnaby late Wednesday night, March 22, has authorities scratching their heads. About 11:05 the blast rattled windows and awakened neighbours near the Chaffey Burke Elementary School on Abbey Avenue. Police responded with officers and a dog but came up empty handed. All they could find was a small hole in the ground. No damage has been reported and there were no injuries.

3/17/06 - MYSTERY BOOMS STILL A MYSTERY - OREGON - The Portland Air National Guard says they do not believe F-15 fighters are to blame for loud booms heard throughout the area on Saturday. The Air National Guard checked Portland's flight track and determined jets were conducting training flights over the Northwest when a series of strange rumbling noises hit. However, the two jets that broke the sound barrier were over the ocean and pointing west. That sonic boom would not have traveled more than 20 miles. "If it was us, we'll confess and make sure we look at procedures and make sure it doesn't happen again." Many people on the base heard the noise as well, but say it was much different than a sonic boom. The Air National Guard will now check Seattle's flight track to see if any other jets may have been flying at the time.
OREGON - People from the coast all the way to the mountains heard mysterious rumbles Saturday night, so what on earth were they? No, it was not an earthquake from Mount St. Helens and it was not thunder and lightning. It seems everyone had their idea what the noises were and nearly everyone had a different opinion about how long it lasted. A meteor was the best guess from the National Weather Service, but that is unconfirmed. The 911 dispatch center told KATU News they heard it was military jets causing sonic booms. Monday morning, KATU contacted McChord Air Force Base to find out if they were conducting some kind of exercise over the metro area. They were still waiting to hear back from them.
The source of those mysterious rumblings over the weekend that caught the attention of so many continues to be a mystery. The focus is on F-15s at the Portland Air Base, which KATU News was originally told were on the ground, but later learned were not. It turns out a group of F-15s were launched from the Portland International Airport Saturday night as part of three days of intensive training. Within an hour of their departure, people started hearing things and feeling some rumblings. That is when the 911 calls began. Even the commander of the F-15 squadron heard the strange noise from his home in Lake Oswego. The logical explanation seemed to be that the fighter jets set off a sonic boom, but the Air National Guard says it does not make sense that so many people, from Longview to the Oregon coast, would hear the same sonic booms at the same time. A much smaller range of 10 to 20 miles is more likely. With so many wondering what happened, the Air National Guard is continuing its investigation. That leaves others to speculate about meteors and to do comparisons with a similar unexplained phenomenon in FLORIDA last year and in MAINE just last month. Others speculate it is a secret government plane, code-named Aurora, which supposedly flies out of Area 51 in Nevada. For years, unusually intense sonic booms rocked LOS ANGELES, with many believing it was Aurora passing by at four times the speed of sound. The Air National Guard says they plan to interview the pilots individually on Wednesday, which may lead to some kind of answer. Each time an F-15 pilot causes a sonic boom over populated areas, they are required to write a log of the event.

2/26/06 - MAINE - People
in Somerset County are seeking answers after feeling earthquake-like tremors this week.The Somerset County Communications Center got calls Thursday morning from at least a dozen residents who reported tremors in a 15-mile radius in Anson, Madison, Skowhegan and Norridgewock. But state officials said there weren't any earthquakes that were documented by the New England Seismic Network. People in Solon last week reported hearing an unexplained loud explosion that shook homes. "I'd like them to re-look at what they may have. This is the second occurrence in less than a week of such magnitude."
Thursday's event sounded and felt like a Dumpster had fallen off a truck or a truck had hit the town office building, but that nothing could be found when employees went outside to see what happened. More than a mile away, another person felt the shaking in his office. But he, too, couldn't find the cause. "It felt like somebody with a delivery type of vehicle had backed into our building." Six miles away in Anson, the boom and shaking were so strong that an off-duty dispatcher called the county's dispatch center. He thought maybe his chimney collapsed or his furnace exploded, but he couldn't determine the cause either.
Reports continued to pour in Friday from residents who said they experienced what appeared to be earthquake tremors at about 10 a.m. Thursday morning. "The number and validity of reports received Thursday and Friday - in addition to similar reports last Friday in Solon - indicate Thursday's event was significant and not just a sonic boom."

1/6/2006 - SCOTLAND - The coast of Aberdeenshire was rocked by a mystery huge bang on the sixth, shaking windows. There were no aircraft or blasts and the cause of the noise left experts baffled.