NORTH CAROLINA - 2/5/11 - Something is shaking the southeast and has been for quite some time. A Carolina Beach resident was enjoying a Saturday morning when she felt and heard a 'boom.' Many people in her neighborhood ran outside in hopes of finding the source of the noise. "It feels like a Mack truck driving by and it just shakes your whole house."
"It's a shaking feeling. More than thunder and more than a truck going by. Initially that is what it sounded like but it turned into something more than that and I guess more movement. I went to Facebook and I asked, 'Did anyone else just feel a small earthquake?' And within minutes people were posting from all over town saying, 'I felt it in Mayfaire,' 'I felt it in Pine Valley.'" Dozens posted on her wall and thousands have reported the noises up and down the coast on various websites from Georgia to Virginia. With speculative explanations ranging from the ordinary, like military aircraft to the outrageous like ghosts and aliens.
"I don't think it's ghosts, and I don't think it's aliens," said a geophysicist with the United States Geological Service in Menlo Park, California. "I think it's likely to be small earthquakes." An earthquake produces audible sound by making the "ground around the person listening seem like they are in a big woofer. The ground is vibrating and that sound is transmitted up into the atmosphere and you hear a low rumbling sound."
But on the east coast another prominent Geophysicist says earthquakes have nothing to do with it. "There are earthquakes occurring all around the world that we are recording here in North Carolina,. If we had a local earthquake it would be impossible for us not to record that." Of all the loud booms heard, recorded and studied there has never been any direct relationship discovered between any seismic activity. "It's just very unlikely that we could have humans observe this and not have our very sensitive instruments making these observations."
But the California scientist strongly disagrees saying, "Magnitude twos and smaller could produce an audible sound that and shaking that wouldn't be recorded on the seismic stations."
There are a number of aircraft and submarine testing and bombing ranges off the coast stretching from Florida to New Jersey, with more than a dozen off the Carolina coastline. And supersonic flight can certainly make a boom. But no military instillation is taking credit for the booms, and no exercises were scheduled at the time.
"We know that these things were reported long before people were flying around at the speed of sound." In fact the term Seneca Guns, which is often used to describe these sounds comes from a James Fenimore Cooper story explaining the same phenomenon published in 1851, 50 years before man even learned to fly.
"It just doesn't make sense how nothing could show up. How could nothing at all show up if all these people definitely felt and heard something that wasn't thunder, that wasn't a plane, and wasn't a truck driving by the house?" Rven the most experienced scientists can't agree on an answer. You could eliminate some theories by installing a seismometer and sensitive microphones along the Carolina coastline. But, since the booms do little more than rattle windows finding someone to foot the $10,000 to $20,000 bill in our current economy will likely keep the public guessing as to what is causing the mysterious booms. It's just bizarre."