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 2009 -

CANADA - 4/17/09 - Vancouver residents report mysterious, very loud, sound - Much of Vancouver got an ear-splitting wakeup call Friday morning. Was it an explosion? A volcanic eruption? A thunderclap? No one had an definitive explanation, despite many theories about the big bang that shook Vancouver shortly after 6 a.m. "We did have a weather front move through the area in the early-morning hours. But there were no lightning strikes at all in the area." Seismic monitors registered nothing out of the ordinary.

U.S. EAST COAST - 3/29/09 - The flashing lights and booming sounds seen over parts of the East Coast Sunday night were not a result of a man-made space object, according to the United States Air Force. It was first believed that the lights and sounds were caused by space junk related to the Russian rocket Soyuz docking with the International Space Stations Saturday. Whatever flashed through the sky followed the exact path the space junk was traveling over the eastern seaboard.
Witnesses describe the flashes in the sky as being colored with yellows and oranges. Fireballs usually throw sparks that appear green followed by trains of blue and red. The loud explosion accompanying the balls of fire in the sky could be explained if the object was a rocket tank with residual amounts of booster fuel. The flashes and booms that people heard prompted calls to 911 and the National Weather Service late Sunday night. The calls were numerous enough for the National Weather Service to release this statement late Sunday night:
"Numerous reports have been called in to this office and into local law enforcement concerning what appeared to be flashes of light in the sky over the Suffolk/Virginia Beach area. We are confident in saying that this was not lightning...and have been in contact with military and other government agencies to determine the cause. So far...we have not seen or heard of any damage from this and will continue to inquire as to the cause."
The bright fireball Sunday evening was UNUSUAL even by fireball standards. So far we've heard of sightings from Maryland to North Carolina. "At precisely 9:40 p.m. EDT... Suddenly the ground lit up a bright green color. Gazing skyward we saw what appeared to be brilliant fireball meteor. As it moved across the sky NNE between Ursa Minor and Ursa Major it turned from a green color to a brilliant orange, with a white core. Two and a half minutes later we heard a low-pitched rumbling sound. I've been observing more than 40 years but have never seen a meteor this bright. It was absolutely spectacular!" Meteor specialists perk up especially at reports of rumbling or booming in the minute or two after a fireball. If a meteoroid penetrates deep enough into the atmosphere that sounds can reach the ground (as opposed to being refracted upward), it's a sign that the meteoroid survived low enough that it likely dropped fragments on the ground. The fireball reportedly lasted only about 5 to 8 seconds. Re-entering satellites move more slowly, last much longer,
and generally cross the whole sky. So the hunt for fallen meteorites is back on.

TASMANIA - 3/21/09 - UNUSUAL lights that sparked a wave of concern were probably a meteor or space junk. The unusual trail of lights seen speeding across the sky on Saturday afternoon was most likely a natural phenomenon. But the source of the mystery lights remains unknown. Police took dozens of calls about 1.30pm from people around the state who saw the lights heading south. Police said the sightings had triggered fears that a plane or a meteor was about to crash. If the light had been a meteor, it was likely to have either burnt up before it reached the ground or landed somewhere in the ocean.

SOUTH CAROLINA - 3/20/09 - A loud noise was heard shortly before 3 a.m. Friday morning in Aiken, Richmond and Columbia counties. Local law enforcement agencies also report hearing the boom, but no one knows what caused it. Two Aiken County Sheriff’s Office deputies reportedly saw a fireball in the sky.
From the heavens came a fire ball, and a boom.Aiken is a town that’s not easily fooled, and is questioning the reports that the flash, and bang in the early morning sky, was a meteor.“I’ve heard the meteorite story, I’ve heard the airplane sonic boom story, I don’t know." "I’m not buying the meteor explanation, no."

There is a report that power was lost over downtown Augusta, Georgia
(at least) at around 3am that morning. It was restored by 4am. Of course, this could be a coincidence with the timing of the boom. Since the collision of Russian and American satellites on Feb. 10, 2009, there have been a number of similar (unexplained) incidents reported (booms, meteor-like objects, etc.).
Video evidence of boom and light - 3 property surveillance tapes captured odd footage. “...area right here, where the little swirl came down…there it went! There it went!“ The amazed owner never heard the sound…but after hearing reports, she believes she’s recorded light from the unidentified “object” that was seen and heard all over the CSRA, Friday morning. She has 3 surveillance cameras that captured 3 different images from that morning. Two cameras show something falling…this object fell a few seconds before the flash on the deck was seen…the other happened 42 seconds after the flash. A meteorite hunter is plotting points on a map of the area to try and pinpoint exactly where debris fell.

OHIO - 3/18/09 - The Ashtabula County Emergency Management Agency fielded between six and 12 calls this morning from people who say they felt a small earthquake. The calls regarding the tremor came in around 9:45 a.m. Officials in Ashtabula sent the info along to the Ohio Seismic Network for further investigation. There were no reports of any injuries or damage. Earthquakes and tremors are not uncommon in northeast Ohio especially along the lake shore. [no quakes recorded in Ohio on the USGS site]

ALABAMA - 3/12/09 - News 5 received reports from Spanish Fort to the Mississippi state line about a big boom around 2:00 p.m. that shook their homes. So far, no one has an answer for it. The National Weather Service had no reports. The USGS is not showing any signs of seismic activity in the area. In fact, the closest earthquake to Mobile within the past week was 718 miles away in Sullivan, Missouri on Saturday night. Eglin Air Force Base says they were not doing any training flights that afternoon which could've caused a sonic boom. And both the Mobile County Sheriff's Office and EMA report nothing unusual. But something definitely happened and it caused a lot of concern. Especially for a West Mobile woman who says dishes fell out of her cabinets and broke on the floor. Whatever it was, it appeared to have come from the West and moved East.

NEW YORK - 3/16/09 - Staten Island residents are trying to figure out what caused a loud boom that was heard in at least six neighborhoods.
The explosion-like blast rattled windows of homes at about 7:55 p.m. Monday. It could be heard for miles. Police and firefighters responded to numerous calls to 911, but the loud noise remained a mystery on Tuesday. Police say they found no explosion anywhere in the borough and Con Edison reported no outages or transformer explosions. Last week, witnesses reported big booms of a different sort. A brilliant yellow streak was seen in the skies north of the city, in Westchester and Rockland counties. Some residents believed it was a meteorite fireball.
It was just before 8 p.m. on Monday and again six minutes later. Suddenly, a powerful boom, or some say a pair of booms, reverberated through about half a dozen Staten Island neighborhoods, rattling windows, shaking buildings and sending people running into the streets. “Not a normal sound. It was heavy and low.” Some saw a flash.

NEW YORK - 3/7/09 - There were reports of a big "boom" and a brilliant yellow streak in the skies north of New York City. There was no seismic activity in the region. The sound early Saturday has been likened to a window-rattling explosion. Police got a flurry of reports from people in Scarsdale, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Tuckahoe, Eastchester and Bronxville. An witness to the spectacle early Saturday in Westchester County apparently saw a meteorite fireball. A collector is offering $10,000 for a piece of the meteorite. Another "boom" was reported early Monday in neighboring Rockland County.

A second loud boom - 3/9/09 - may have rattled windows in parts of Rockland County Monday - and its origin remains as mysterious as the explosive noise that blew through southern Westchester County over the weekend. "It was about 5:15 a.m., and it woke up the whole house. The house was shaking. It sounded like someone had flown an F-16 over the house."
An earlier unexplained "boom" shook homes in parts of southern Westchester early Saturday. That noise, and the one that reportedly woke up parts of Rockland yesterday, was unlikely to be an earthquake, weather pattern, falling space debris or a civilian aircraft, officials from local, state and federal agencies said.
The likelihood of the boom being from a meteorite would be "very rare."
"When people say bigger, they usually mean brighter. It is possible that something in the atmosphere can do that, but it is very rare. But seeing it moving in a downward arc would be an optical illusion. You would not be able to see that."
There also have been no confirmed reports of seismic activity over the weekend.

CALIFORNIA - 3/4/09 - had a similar boom mystery a few days earlier. The search for the cause of the sonic boom Central Coast residents felt Wednesday morning may be a bust.
A Federal Aviation Administration official said the search for the source of the mysterious morning rattling has turned up nothing. "We reviewed all the radar data for flights in the airspace in Northern California around the time that people reported this boom. There were several military aircraft operating but they were slow. None of these aircraft were going supersonic."
The Orange County Register reported a sonic boom 12 hours before what was heard on the Central Coast on Wednesday. The mystery has spurred its share of conspiracy theories. On the Sentinel Web site, readers comments suggested the boom was E.T.'s return, an intercontinental missile fired by North Korea, a chemtrail weather modification program or test runs of new, secret U.S. Navy jets.
Orange County residents had similar theories after thousands of doors and windows across the county rattled and vibrated. Some suggested an asteroid was the source of the shaking. The asteroid passed by Monday night. A U.S. Geological Survey spokesperson said the shaking was not caused by an earthquake, though several people called 911 to report a possible rattler after the boom.
CALIFORNIA - 3/4/09 - Mysterious rattling reported in county; earthquake ruled out as the cause. Even though Central Coast residents felt rattled Wednesday morning, the source of the shaking was not under their feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
At 9:15 a.m., USGS sensors detected ground movement, but the signals did not resemble an earthquake. The movement appeared to originate off the Monterey Bay coast. "Our best guess is that it was a sonic boom from a jet off the coast. That's all we can say scientifically."
The Air Force reports it did not have jets flying off the coast that morning. After receiving calls about a boom in Southern California, the Federal Aviation Administration said it is searching through flights they monitored Wednesday morning to find the supersonic jet. "We haven't found anything yet that would explain the sonic boom." "The energy travelled across our seismic sensor network at the velocity of a compressional wave in air rather than the velocity of a similar wave through the ground, which is much faster." "I was outside and heard two loud booms. My husband said the house shook quickly, like a truck hit it, not the typical earthquake shaking, much quicker." One man heard four loud booms - two before 10 a.m. and another two around noon. They made our windows rattle. It was like a blast, it sounded like a dynamite blast almost." Residents in Salinas and Monterey also reported feeling the boom.
The ground did move Wednesday morning also. The USGS Web site reported four minor earthquakes in the region. A magnitude 2.0 earthquake hit near Los Altos Hills at 8:40 a.m. Two quakes struck outside Tres Pinos: a 1.3 magnitude at 5:42 a.m. and a 1.6 at 7:52 a.m. The shaking detected at 9:15 a.m. was not posted on their site, because it was not classified as an earthquake. At 11:12 a.m., a 1.7 movement was measured in a quarry near Portola Valley. The USGS attributed that to a robable quarry explosion.

IDAHO - March 3, 2009 - Mysterious 'skyquakes' return to valley, reported across U.S. - Roughly a year after a series of bizarre rumbling was reported across the Magic Valley, similar incidents are being reported again in south-central Idaho and northern Nevada. On March 3, the Southern Idaho Regional Communications Center heard from people from Buhl to Kimberly and Jerome who reported a loud boom and rumbling that evening. One off-duty dispatcher felt it in Twin Falls, and one supervisor said he felt it at his own home in Kimberly. "I thought (at first) it was my neighbors moving heavy equipment."
Farther south, residents of Spring Creek, Lamoille and Elko, Nev., last week reported periodic rumbling and occasional shaking over several days, all at varying times of day. Mining companies in the area said that they haven't done anything unusual that would cause the rumbles and suggested that they may be sonic booms from military aircraft. But the rumblings heard on and off for the past few years last just a few seconds too long and are too continuous to be sonic booms. Mountain Home Air Force Base officials don't believe they're the cause. The closest jet at the time was 23 or 24 miles away from Twin Falls and another base doesn't report any training at the time.
But geologists still said that sonic booms may be the best explanation. No earthquakes were recorded anywhere close enough to southern Idaho to have caused the noise at the time. The Idaho Geological Survey wondered about extremely tiny earthquakes, noting that scientists aren't able to record so called "micro-earthquakes." But they still don't believe an earthquake was the culprit, and noted the reports were too widespread to be something local, such as large quarry blasts.
"What it actually is, is anyone's guess." Scientists gave similar responses last March, when odd rumblings happened regularly at 11:23 p.m. for several days. But the military then also denied any involvement. Often called "skyquakes," the unexplained booms have become a regular occurrence worldwide in recent years, often coming in waves over the same area, according to reports on Web sites such as, that track the phenomenon.
Southern California news outlets reported a strong skyquake that rattled windows across the Los Angeles-Orange County area at 9:20 p.m. on March 3 just hours after the one felt in the Magic Valley. The following day, March 4, another skyquake was felt over California's Central Coast region.
Seismic stations around Monterey Bay, Calif., recorded a compression wave at 9:15 a.m., but the wave lacked the up-and-down shear that usually characterizes an earthquake. And on March 7 residents of Westchester County, NY, reported being shaken from their sleep by a pre-dawn skyquake that rattled the Hudson River Valley area just north of New York City. While widely scattered, the latest string of skyquakes all resulted in the same round of denials from U.S. Geological Survey officials (no earthquakes), civil officials (no construction blasting or other known explosions) and military and civilian air traffic controllers (no exercises or high-speed flights).

FLORIDA - 2/19/09 - Sanibel residents reported this morning a loud boom and shaking on the island. Officials with the City of Sanibel Police Department said they have received calls about a disturbance in the area and are investigating. There is no information on what could have caused the noise and shaking. “It sounded and felt like an earthquake. The walls were shaking.” The shaking lasted about four seconds and occurred around 10:43 a.m.

SWAZILAND - 2/18/09 - The geology survey and mines department says it is still consulting to find the cause of the tremor that was experienced in the country on Wednesday night.
They would only make conclusions after comparing reports from their counterparts in other countries. The Swaziland Meteorological services has since said it will work with the geology department to find the cause of the tremors. "We are aware that there were tremors in some parts of the country and we are working on finding out causes." The frequency of the tremors is worrying. "Climate has to do with a lot of things like volcanoes, deserts, so the frequency of the tremors could be early signs of these things." The nation was told it should not worry as both departments would do everything possible to find out how serious the situation is. "As the meteorology department, we cannot have all the answers to the nation but all we can say is we will be observing the situation. We will consult the geology department on the situation."

AUSTRALIA - 2/5/09 to 2/18/09 - Booms still a mystery -
Police are still bewildered by the explosions that rocked Guanaba in the past two weeks and say no one has come forward with any information about what could have caused them. Residents of the area first heard an explosion that shook their houses on February 5 at 8.30pm. The following Wednesday, February 11, a similar noise was heard, although residents said it sounded further away. Police have established it was about 2km from the first one but that is where their investigations have come to halt.

TEXAS - 2/15/09 - Sonic booms and at least one fireball in the sky were reported in Texas on Sunday, less than a week after two satellites collided in space and a day after the Federal Aviation Administration asked U.S. pilots to watch for "falling space debris". There were no reports of ground strikes or interference with aircraft in flight. Video shot by a photographer from News 8 TV in Austin showed what appeared to be a meteor-like white fireball blazing across a clear blue sky Sunday morning. Most of the reports the FAA received came in about midday Sunday in an area of Texas from Dallas south to Austin. The Texas Department of Public Safety received calls from residents surprised by sonic booms about 11 a.m. Calls came from an area from Dallas to Houston.

MINNESOTA - summer 2008 to 2/21/09 - The enduring mystery of the south Minneapolis explosions rattling both windows and neighbors' nerves has once again reared its head. A new spate of nighttime blasts, roughly 100, have been going off since summer, something that has been occurring intermittently for nearly three years. The last time that police investigated the spate of explosions, in 2006 and 2007, they were finally able to determine the source: fireworks, most likely set off by teenagers.
This time, though, only about half can be explained. Fireworks and exploding electrical transformers account for the explained half, "but for the rest, we just don't know. We can't explain it."
The most troubling, if far-fetched, theory -- that anarchists were in the Mississippi River gorge, practicing their explosive skills in preparation for the Republican National Convention -- didn't pan out. "It was a real homeland security concern so we were down there in the river with the St. Paul cops, but that wasn't it." Undercover cops have been working the neighborhoods where the blasts have been reported but have enjoyed only mixed success. For example, on Monday shortly after midnight, three explosions were reported and were quickly determined to be fireworks. Two more reported several hours later remain head scratchers. "There's one theory that competing groups of some kind are trying to see who can come up with the loudest explosions down by the river."
Another theory that didn't hold was the possibility that some unknown kind of chemical reaction was occurring in the city's water treatment system. Although most appear to be occurring near the river, sound echo patterns have sent the noise across a wide swath of the city along the river from roughly E. Lake Street to Ford Parkway. And they've been heard by residents dozens of blocks to the west. Just as in 2007, news of the explosions has spread like electronic wildfire among residents, who have lit up neighborhood e-mail lists with their accounts of the noise. Last time, theories ran from pipe bombs to sonic booms to exploding gas lines. This time, the theories have run more along the lines of propane cannons and violent freight train car coupling. Police are continuing their investigation.

The sky is falling, but it's meteors, not satellite debris, that lit up the sky in Kentucky, Texas and Italy on Friday, 2-13-09. Three fireball meteors were seen over Italy just hours before the lights began streaking across Kentucky.
The Kentucky light and sound show was seen over a large area of the state, with some people saying it shook houses and briefly turned night into day.
Then, on Sunday, 2-15-09, runners in a marathon in Austin, Texas, saw a fireball so bright that it was visible in daylight. "Meteors are seen all the time. Occasionally they are very bright and lead to a sonic boom-type noise."
A spokeswoman with the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, which tracks man-made objects entering the Earth's atmosphere over North America from Colorado Springs, Colo., said she was not aware of Friday's reports from Kentucky. But they sounded similar to what was coming out of Texas on Sunday. NORAD saw nothing on its radar on Friday night or over the weekend and there was "definitely nothing" from last week's satellites hurtling through the sky. "If something was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, we'd track it."

FLORIDA - MARCO ISLAND - 2/4/09 & 2/5/09 - Is it a bomb? Is it a plane? Or is it a sonic boom? Loud bangs have Islanders looking to the sky with wonder. Occasional loud booms had Marco Islanders and others in Southern Collier County wondering what the noise was Wednesday and Thursday. Police officers heard the noise too, but they weren't sure what they were. "Some residents even thought it was an earthquake. We checked into it and there were no earthquakes in our area."
While the military may not confirm or deny any jets in the area, residents were reporting Air Force sightings off the Gulf coast the last two days.

PENNSYLVANIA - 2/2/09 - Several residents of Bethany, Pa. reported feeling a possible quake at 7 p.m. Monday, about two and a half hours BEFORE a 3.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Morris County, New Jersey. Monday evening at approximately 7:00 p.m. the earth shook on Bethany Hill, Old Wayne Street, Sugar Street, Spruce Street and on Wayne Street. Coincidentally, at that time, a large boom and a burst of light transpired on Sugar Street. It was enough to make people come out of their homes on Sugar Streetrush to the window, "and what to their wondering eyes should appear", but a huge flame, a light that shot up in the sky. Neighbors on Old Wayne Street came out in the snow to check their houses to see "what fell on their roofs". They thought it could have been a whole tree that fell on the roof and onto the ground. One citizen thought the plow had driven into his home! A second boom was felt, but much lighter in nature.
What could it be? The police responded, but there were no accidents reported , there was nothing to investigate. "We couldn't ALL be crazy! There was a lot of telephoning going on and together with the moving and the shaking, we accepted the fact that we actually did experience a strange phenomenon!" The earthquake in New Jersey apparently occurred on a fault line that runs to Bethany.

ARKANSAS - 1/20/09 - From rattling windows to big loud booms, Sequoyah County residents reported feeling tremors earlier this week, and now officials are investigating the matter. The reports come from as far north as Marble City and as far south as the Le Flore County border. Calls have been pouring into the county sheriff's office. Residents say they heard rumbling noises, and saw their windows and sliding glass doors shaking. Officials say there is no evidence at this time of seismic activity, but they'll continue to look into it.

NEBRASKA - 1/20/09 - loud booms heard in Grand Island Tuesday night and Wednesday morning are believed to be starling control measures or the acts of curious youth. The Central Platte Natural Resources Distric began shooting off propane cannons last Friday night around dusk for about seven to 14 days. But Grand Island/Hall County Emergency Management said the 911 center received calls about loud booms from “one end of town to the other,” and the calls came after dusk.
They were reported between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday and again around 7 a.m. Wednesday. "There were no reports of fire, no reports of damage, no reports of power outages or any infrastructure damage.”
The boom almost sounded like a “sonic boom” that is sometimes heard from traveling aircraft. Calls to the Central Nebraska Regional Airport were not immediately returned. Area youth may be experimenting with something like a “dry ice bomb.”
When dry ice is dropped into a 2-liter bottle of water, a loud explosion can be the result. The technique has been featured on the cable television show “Mythbusters.”
The city of Grand Island has contracted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for starling control in the past, but no such work is currently under way. “The city has not received any calls from citizens regarding problems with starlings." USDA officials have been tracking the birds. They believe the birds are moving to the area later in the season this year, and for the most part, the flock that is here stays in Grand Island the majority of the year.