Brian Emfinger photographed this early Perseid meteor shower fireball, with a acting trail, indigenous Ozark, Arkansas just after midnight on Sunday, July 26, 2009. CREDIT: Brian Emfinger, provided with permission (more photos:

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Mysterious booming sounds are occasionally heard ~ above the phibìc Carolina coast, often an effective enough come rattle windows and doors. They can not be explained by thunderstorms or any manmade sources their source is a mystery.

Such dins are not distinctive to phibìc Carolina or the modern-day age. Human being living near Seneca Lake in upstate new York have actually long recognized of comparable booming sounds, which they dubbed "Seneca guns." In seaside Belgium, lock are well-known as "mistpouffers," or fog belches; in the Ganges delta and the just of Bengal, "Bansal guns;" in the Italian Apennines, "brontidi," or thunder-like; and by the Harami people of Shikoku, Japan, "yan."

"What"s going on is an exciting challenge, everything it could be," said seismologist David Hill, scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological inspection office in Menlo Park, Calif.

Long perform of explanations

A organize of plausible explanations may now exist for these enigmas, including earthquakes, absent bursts, dirt volcanoes, explosive venting that gas, storm-driven waves, tsunamis, meteors, distant thunder and so-called booming sands.

"It appears there is rather a range of processes in nature that might be responsible," Hill called OurAmazingPlanet.

"Earwitnesses" explained sounds like booming cannons or falling stones accompanying little to middle earthquakes in England native 1880 to 1916. In 1975, U.S. Geological inspection researchers managed to document both acoustic and seismic signal of an earthquake swarm in California, detect that three earthquakes through magnitudes ranging from 2.0 come 2.8 developed sounds that started within 0.02 secs of the arrival of seismic waves at the scientists" station. Comparable results to be seen through quakes in the French Pyrenees in 2004.

All in all, audible sound from earthquakes might be perceived also when shower is not, Hill suggested. Because that instance, if earthquakes room rare in coastal North Carolina, lock are fairly common in the Charleston area of south Carolina, the website of the 1886 size 7.6 Charleston quake, and the area that Seneca Lake is situated within do organize low-level earthquake activity. Locals could be listening an earthquake the is too tiny for them come feel.

Also, absent bursts, wherein long-buried rock can suddenly relax stress, often since of mining removed confining material over it, can basically be seen as a form of small, near-surface earthquake. Scientists have actually reported emotion perceptible jolts and hearing spicy booming sound from together bursts, Hill said.

Giant waves might also be responsible because that the mystery sounds, Hill suggested. Researchers have found that booming sounds room apparently acquainted to big-wave surfers throughout extreme waves. In addition, after ~ the catastrophic 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatra earthquake and also tsunami , multiple witnesses claimed they heard loud, offshore booming sounds carefully accompanying two or three of the biggest waves the struck the coastline at any given site.

"I to be surprised come learn about the opportunity that tsunamis develop these kinds of sounds," Hill said. "I don"t think anyone understands that process."

Hill says the sounds heard off the shores of phibìc Carolina, Belgium and also the bay of Bengal can be big waves caused by remote storms that break fine offshore, beyond outer financial institutions or barrier beaches. Such waves might also disrupt offshore methane hydrate deposits, leading to explosive venting the high-pressure gas trapped deep in ~ the Earth.

Booming sands and also seismometers

Another opportunity is meteors. Meteors have the right to generate sonic booms and explode drastically as lock plummet native space. Offered how lengthy it have the right to take a shockwave to reach the Earth"s surface ar from the upper atmosphere, visible signs of the meteor deserve to vanish before its sonic boom is heard, especially throughout the daytime, Hill noted.

Under the right circumstances, also sand dunes have the right to generate a range of sounds, including whispering, humming, whistling and also squeaking. Booming sands, comparable to rumbling thunder, deserve to be heard to ranges of 6 mile (10 kilometers) and also for as long as 15 minutes, are possible as well. They typically appear restricted to large sand dunes in arid climates through steep encounters pointing far from the wind, and seem to require loosely packed, really smooth, practically spherical sand grains.

"In the east desert in Egypt, the Bedouins have a long history of hearing booms and avoiding the area after installing seismometers there, researchers were able to go ago and see these sound seem correlated with small earthquakes that caused booming sands," Hill said.

In the future, ~ potential artificial sources of mysterious booming sounds are ruled out, together as army exercises and also quarry blasts, seismic networks can quickly reveal if earthquakes or volcanoes to be responsible. Because that instance, the USArray, a mobile network that seismometers, is at this time moving east throughout the unified States and "it might help resolve the worry of what the sounds on the north Carolina shore are," Hill said.

Hill comprehensive this research study in the September-October concern of the newspaper Seismological study Letters.

Editor"s Note: This post was readjusted to reflect the correct ar of Seneca Lake.

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Charles Q. Choi is a contributing writer for Live Science and also That covers all things human being origins and also astronomy and also physics, animals and general scientific research topics. Charles has actually a understand of Arts level from the university of Missouri-Columbia, school of Journalism and also a Bachelor that Arts degree from the college of south Florida. Charles has actually visited every continent ~ above Earth, drink rancid yak butter tea in Lhasa, snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos and also even climbing an iceberg in Antarctica.