Mystery booms continue in New York state

Mystery booms are still heard around Genesee, New York. This article cites several incidents around the country and focuses on this particular area.

Mysterious ‘booms’ still unexplained – The Daily News Online: News.

It is a phenomena that has sparked curiosity throughout the country for several years now.

The booms, however, have grown more frequent.

Dr. Mark Castner, director of Braun-Ruddick Seismograph Station at Canisius College, told WIVB-TV in Buffalo that booms can be associated with an earthquake, quarry blasts, building implosions or sonic booms.

Seismographic records reported no unusual activity, however, and officials at Niagara Falls Air Reserve have had no aircraft flying in the area during the times of the reported booms.

The witnesses sometimes report that the dogs bark and the houses shake. I currently experience booms from a military testing area over 7 miles away. On some days, it DOES upset the dog. But making the house move is a very different thing. To cause movement, if indeed it DID do that (some people perceive movement based on the sound) in the house would suggest there is movement on the ground – an explosion, a quarry blast or an earthquake will do this.

I’ve researched strange sounds quite a bit. Many events are left unexplained or provisionally explained because not enough information has been recorded from the event to determine what it was, so we are left ruling out what we can. In many cases, since event booms have been caused by military aircraft or meteors creating sonic booms, explosives or small earthquakes. Therefore, there could be various explanation for sounds that are similar, but they are not correlated. In the Finger Lakes area of New York, the term Seneca guns or lake guns originated as early explorers noticed booming noises, like canon fire, near the lakes. Also known as mistpouffers, similar phenomena are reported around the world and their explanation remains mysterious. Fascinating.

I’m going into speculation mode here… there is some evidence to suggest that very shallow earthquakes or shallow changes in the subsurface, may sometimes cause audible noises but NOT register on seismographs. Because each area of bedrock is a little different, and topography and even weather conditions may affect sound propagation, this may be a possible explanation. Also, it’s interesting to note that this area of New York was heavily glaciated in the past. The ground is still undergoing mild glacial isostatic adjustment which may cause activation of small, unmapped faults and thus account for the lake guns and booming noise phenomena.

Last January, there was such a spate of mystery booms, I wrote a rather long featured piece for Doubtful News. I quote part below but you can read the entire piece here.

From Doubtful News, January 17, 2012

Mystery Booms

The phenomena best known, but still rather uncertainly explained, is that of mystery booms. [William] Corliss [Earthquakes, Tides, Unidentified Sounds and Other Related Phenomena, a Sourcebook Project catalog (1983)] notes that there are SO many reports of unexplained sounds of this nature that their reality is not doubted. A review of a particular type of account of the phenomena, called brontides, has been published in the journal Science. (Gold and Soter. 1979. Brontides: Natural Explosive Noises. Science 204:4391. pp. 371-375.)

Brontides are observed with some regularity at certain places on earth. Frequently, they can be linked to seismic events that are too small to feel, perhaps even too small to be noticed or measured (in consideration of today’s background vibrations from urban activity). Ground-to-air acoustic transmission from shallow earthquakes is a possibility for many of the booming events. It seems likely that seismic activity is not the sole cause around the world, however.

The Barisal Guns are known from the Ganges delta area in India. They sound like cannon fire. Reports exist from the 1870s when explosives and cannons were nowhere around and firearms were scarce. The booming sound is sometimes single but can be triplets. Barisol guns events were associated with rain. Potential explanations for these and other brontides included far off surf breaking, landslides on the river banks in the delta, detonation of underwater gas, explosives, military testing, mass animal sounds (some aquatic creatures make a huge racket en masse), volcanic or seismic activity, and – a particularly curious idea – the sound of compacting sediment from the delta which can actually contribute to small earthquakes.

Unique occasion of similar booming noises have been reported all along the Eastern North America coast, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Some particular areas around water have their own versions of these “water guns”. Here are some examples:

  • Seneca guns in New York at Seneca Lake
  • “Mistpouffers” from the coasts of northern Europe to Iceland, particularly Belgium and France. Their tendency to occur on warm, calm foggy days, has earned them the translation of “fog dissipators”. A keeper of a lighthouse reported them with regularity. Their noise was said not to resemble artillery or thunder.
  • Uminari in Japan (July, 1915. Monthly Weather Review. 315) is described to be the sound of waves breaking off shore. The lines of waves can produce a cannonading sound audible some ways inland.
  • “Lake Roar” from several Alpine lakes possibly related to the karst caverns.

Land guns are also reported. As mentioned, these are sometimes correlated with tiny earthquakes, sometimes not. Examples of these land booms:

  • Moodus Noises of Connecticut (generally agreed to be seismic-related)
  • “Brontidi” on the Italian peninsula
  • Hanley’s guns in Victoria, Australia
  • Booms reported by Bedouins in the Egyptian desert
  • “Gouffre” reported in Haiti (a seismically active area).

In today’s society, it difficult to distinguish natural sounds from man made ones. We regularly experience sonic booms, blasting, military artillery testing, fireworks, rifle reports, and sound from heavy industrial machinery. One-time events may be seismic related, even in areas not considered to be earthquake-prone,  but we can’t discount a rare atmospheric electrical phenomena (from clear sky, sometimes with a flash) or unseen meteor explosions in the atmosphere.

boom

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  2 comments for “Mystery booms continue in New York state

  1. March 17, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Most likely the Air Force or CIA is testing a new spy aircraft that does not show up on radar. This same thing was happening while the U-2 was being tested.

  2. Randy Griffin
    March 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Peter, the U-2 is not a supersonic aircraft. At least, Wikipedia lists maximum speed as 500 mph (800 kph). Even at altitude I think that’s below the speed of sound.
    Besides, as noted above sonic booms rattle windows but don’t shake the whole house.

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