Since Sunday, March 18th, a series of loud “booming” noises has been shaking the homes and nerves of residents in Clintonville, Wisconsin, near Green Bay.
A small town in Wisconsin is giving new meaning to the phrase “things that go bump in the night” after a series of mysterious underground “booms” accompanied by ground shaking sent some residents packing and left scientists scratching their heads as to their source.
Residents in the northeast section of Clintonville, Wisconsin, a small town located in Waupaca County near Green Bay, have been hearing mysterious underground booming sounds since last Sunday evening. The strange sounds, described as being like heavy thunder, fireworks, or a cannon, began on Sunday evening and intensified by Monday, tapering off a bit by Thursday morning. Officials received more than 250 calls from concerned residents as they scrambled to find an explanation for the sounds.
Gas lines and sewers were checked, and officials contacted local businesses and mining operations in the area. Even the military was contacted, but NORAD claimed none of their planes was responsible for any of the sounds. The National Weather Service ruled out the weather.
After ruling out many man-made possibilities, city officials contacted experts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Geoscience about whether or not the “booms” could be related to seismic activity. Seismology Professor Clifford Thurber reviewed seismograph readings from a station in Shiocton about 20 miles from the affected area and, while he did see evidence of the ground shaking in an unusual way, concluded that “nothing he saw indicated an earthquake.”
Harold Tobin, a Professor of Fault Mechanics and Rock Physics, went to Clintonville. After reviewing seismograph readings for the area, he, too, concluded that while it does appear that the sounds are coming from the ground just beneath the surface, “…we can rule out that standard earthquake activity, [that] some swarm of earthquakes is happening in that region. It also really looks like it’s not connected to, say, unusual drilling activity or some other kind of real obvious human-induced signal.”
By Thursday, however, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined that the possible cause of the rumblings was a 1.5-magnitude earthquake that had occurred near Clintonville on Tuesday. Geophysicist Paul Caruso told the Associated Press that the types of noises that were being reported in Clintonville have been known to be associated with earthquakes, however, he also had his doubts, stating “To be honest, I’m skeptical that there would be a sound report associated with such a small earthquake.”
Booming sounds have been reported for a long time in the U.S. and around the world, and tend to occur more frequently in the Northeastern part of the country and along the East Coast. Early explorers and native people made note of such “booms.” The most well-known of these types of sounds are the “Seneca Guns.” The term “Seneca Guns” originated in one of James Fenimore Cooper’s short stories called “The Lake Gun,” which referred to the “booms” heard on the shores of Lake Seneca and Lake Cayuga in New York State in the 1800s. The name has since been used to describe similar sounds along the Carolina Coasts and Virginia. There were also accounts of “artillery-like” sounds that occurred before and during the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 (see related article on the New Madrid Seismic Zone).
While scientists speculate that these “booms” may actually be very small, shallow earthquakes that are too small to be recorded, other causes have occasionally been determined. Some of these include far-off thunder, sonic booms, mining activities, explosives, and even meteors entering the atmosphere. But sometimes an explanation remains elusive.
Regardless of what’s causing the “booms,” some Clintonville residents decided to pack their bags and leave town in search of much-needed rest. And while residents of Clintonville brace for the possibility of another round of odd booming sounds, residents in the town of Montello, about 80 miles south, also reported hearing similar loud “booming” sounds this week. VIDEO OF MONTELLO/CLINTONVILLE HERE: http://fox6now.com/2012/03/22/montello-community-reports-mysterious-booms/
Although the USGS has declared the case closed in Clintonville, speculation remains among geologists as to whether such a small earthquake could produce the types of sounds being reported for such a length of time at such a shallow depth. City Administrator Lisa Kuss was quick to agree with the USGS and declared the mystery solved. Many local residents, however, doubt that an earthquake was the cause of the sounds they experienced, and remain wary of “those things that go bump in the night.”
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