Still no answers as ‘booms’ rock Cape Fear coast


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Submitted: Tue, 02/28/2012 - 9:45pm
Updated: Wed, 02/29/2012 - 1:23pm
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The booms are back.

Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, reports came spilling in from around the Cape Fear of loud noises and shaking. For years, the mysterious booms have confused residents who not only want to know what’s happening but why.

Some people reported hearing a loud noise while others say they just felt the ground shaking.

The United States Geological Survey says in areas in North Carolina from as far south as Ash in Brunswick County north to Havelock, people felt a weak to light rumble.

We reached out to the USGS office in Memphis that monitors our area. Seismologist Oliver Boyd says nothing registered on the Richter Scale. So what could it have been?

One post on our website said it felt like a surface earthquake like one experienced in California. Boyd says the minimum magnitude that is registered on the scale is between 1.5 and 2. He says if an earthquake is less than that magnitude, it would not be felt.

There was a small earthquake in Virginia early Tuesday morning. Boyd said Wilmington is too far away from the quake to have felt an aftershock.

We also asked if there was any activity in the ocean that could have registered on the coast. Boyd said they had nothing to report.

So is there an answer?

Boyd says we need to figure out if the booms are coming from the earth or the atmosphere which could be determined by putting seismometers into the ground.

There are many theories about what causes this rocking and rolling. But the answers continues to escape scientists.

76 Comments

  • ghosts says:

    Again the wonderful local news has me laughing reporting that it was the “Seneca Guns,” ghosts of an Indian tribe making my house shake using their guns. I hope Iran does not get into communication with the ghosts or we are all in trouble because the sound and the shake that was felt it must have been an Atomic bomb. Someone call the government, we need to inspect the ghosts and place.

  • lookout says:

    I was on a steel building near market st felt tremor twice first time lasted about 3 seconds 2nd time lasted about 20 now after all tbe crazy storiez i have heard i am not sure what to think so i will ad one of my own maybe iran tested a nuke duh!

  • Guest Lee says:

    Aren’t “Seneca Guns” just another offspring idea of a parallel universe?

  • Brian Smith says:

    God’s breakfast disagreed with him.

  • Guest6858 says:

    Maybe something happened at Sunny Point, in which case you will never receive an explanation.

  • pkboerema says:

    We were on Oak Island. First one was loud “boom” followed by house shaking like it was being hit. Then again a few seconds later but not as severe. It happened again over an hour later and then a fourth time about 10 minutes after that.

  • The Famous Mr. P. says:

    Yeah, it was the earth shattering bass from my kick drums.

  • Leo says:

    Heard/felt these this morning in Supply. No seismic activity reported so it must have been sonic booms. The military probably won’t confirm this as it is a big no-no to cause these over populated areas. I think a couple of hot dog pilots.

  • c.schwarzmann says:

    same here….in oki felt it too..thought someone was banging on my door at first!

  • Guest2020 says:

    I’m in Shallotte and about 11:30 there was an extremely loud bang and the whole house shook. I’ve experienced the Seneca Guns before, but this is by far the heaviest.

  • WaterBoy says:

    I’ve heard them for years here in Carolina Beach. IT seems they happen every year, early, early spring (now)…when a somewhat of a warm front moves across the region and out into the ocean. Could be warm air, meeting air that exist above the cooler ocean air. Just my thoughts.

  • SGuest says:

    LOL, when people say it’s the Seneca Guns it makes me chuckle. The Seneca Indians sure are a bad shot, as nothing has ever hit shore! And for a lady whom I used to work with, who insisted it was the shifting of the continental shelf…I say, If you hear something THIS BIG, you better run for your life, because it would cause a sunami such as the world has never seen! LOL. Can you say Sonic Boom? Who cares if the jets break the speed of sound? If you listen closely after a big boom, you can hear jets :o) I heard 2 of them this morning (2/28/12) at 10am, which woke me up. 2 more at about 10 minutes till noon.

  • Guestearea says:

    Sounded like sonic booms to me. Ive lived in an area where I heard them often.

  • Boom Boom says:

    I read that similar “booms” occur off the coast of Chile in S. America. The local government there did a study and found that there are occasional pockets of air over the ocean that collect together and then dissipate suddenly, causing the “boom” noise. It is kind of like when you pop a balloon. But, the article said the scientists can’t determine what causes these pockets of air to form. I guess none of our scientists can figure out what is going on either.

  • Guest3455544 says:

    I heard/felt it around 10:03 and 10:05 this morning.. The same time I was listening to a local station and the signal went down to nearly nothing.. This is the first time this has ever happened.. Explain why it occurred after the booms?? Could it have been atmospheric?? or What??

  • Katie F. says:

    I was in my house on the island in Surf City and we’ve experienced high winds before but nothing that shook the house like this. It was a hard shaking for about 15 seconds or so. I was afraid we were having an earthquake.

  • GUNNER says:

    I am near the OI Rec. Center. Someone would have to be knocking on my door with a Howitzer to shake the house like that!

  • Guest12345 says:

    felt/heard again larger than the 1st on 11;40ish

  • Kimma says:

    Just after 10:00am this morning it felt like someone fell on our roof and then I heard sheetrock dust falling in the wall. I thought someone was on my roof or in my attic but no one was around.

  • uncwgirl says:

    Heard two large booms and felt strong shaking in my office across from Mayfaire in Wilmington, NC.

  • mshellpugh says:

    we live in burgaw and around our house just started shacking and my neighbors to what just happened?

  • ckochen says:

    It would be nice for the goverment to let us know what is going on for our safety. my whole house shook this morning an this ghost stuff is alot of crap. whats going on at the military bases is what I have to ask.

  • pistei says:

    heard it again also down here at town creek just above winnabow. but i was outside. did not feel it and it seemed less that the first (which was (2 2 second ones about 1 second apart)

    the second seemed like a sonic boom. but the first 2 shook the house. but since i was in different places, i can’t compare them. for all i know, this one might have shook the house also.

  • billy earl says:

    i felt it here in burgaw. definatley stronger than the one we had here a few months ago. shook things in this steel building i have never heard shake before in almost 2 years of being here

  • Ronald says:

    I am from California and it sure felt like a surface quake which happen really quick.

  • guest 70 says:

    Felt it here in Shallotte just now. Large boom and building shook.

  • Georgia says:

    In Evans, GA we had shaking and a loud boom here at about 10:30 a.m. this morning also….strange since we are about 300 miles apart, huh?!

  • sarah says:

    there was a 1.8 magnitude quake in VA this am… so somebody needs to figure out if it was the “guns”, a tremor, the breaking of the sound barrier down on base in jacksonville, or what…. theres NO news about it. thanks.

  • Ann says:

    We are in a metal building and it sounded like someone had picked it up and dropped it a few times! Know how that dumpster sounds when they drop it–this was 10 times worse!!

  • Austin642 says:

    I go to south brunswick high and have hearing them off and on since 9 this morning the initial boom was the strongest it shook our whole building

  • Peyton Garrett says:

    I thought it was Ben McCoy’s Mouth going off. Much like this Morning, it goes off and shakes a little but It does no damage and serves no purpose. An anomoly.

  • DS says:

    We live in Washington State in a suburb outside of Seattle. Members of our family would frequently visit the Pacific Coast to vacation in an area called Kalaloch here in WA State.

    On August 25, 2000 my oldest daughter was vacationing at Kalaloch with her aunt, cousins and her best friend had gone with them. The beach along that area has rip tides, but as the land is very gradual in it’s descent one can be fooled with confidence. In any case three of the girls, one of which was my daughter, got caught up in a rip tide and they were pulled out quite a ways. Here is the incident report from the local area: http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/mag/safety/m0900a.htm

    After this was over and while speaking with my daughter about this she told me of these extremely loud and terrifying booms they were hearing when they were far out into the surf. I have never heard of anyone on the land mentioning any booms and I’ve never heard any while visiting Kalaloch.

    Very interesting. I will have to try and find a youtube of Cape Fear booms and have my daughter listen to see if it sounds similar.

  • Gobbo Ling says:

    At 1:10 am on 3-9-12, I was in my kitchen with my 2 overnight guests when we heard a very loud booming sound followed by the whole house shaking. I live in Illinois and we have had a few very minor earthquakes here so I have experienced them. This seemed like an earthquake to me! I reported it to the police and they said that nobody else had called them. All the neighbors except for 1 were asleep but this was so loud, how could it not wake up somebody? We are puzzled as to what this could have been caused by. Nobody has any answers and it scares me! Then I Google it and find that other people in other states have had this same thing happen to them! What the hell is going on?

  • Guest Reply says:

    The Sonic Booms are coming from all the Sonic Drive-Ins in and around the Cape Fear region. They just turn their volume up past the Red Line. Ours come from the one on Market Street.
    It’s either that or Whale Poots!
    There…case solved!

  • Sheeple says:

    Pretty sure i heard and felt the same “Boom” and rumble in Cape May,NJ. So the rock quarry explaination is out. Weather phenomena over the ocean might work but i am a few hundred miles from Cape Fear. It was undoubtedly the same time and date.

  • mikel says:

    “just sayin” evidently you’re not from the area and have not experienced this phenomenon. Do not drop condescending comments on those of us who have heard all the same comments for many years. These “sonic booms from secret gov’t projects” have been recorded in the area since long before the Wright bros. made history with their flight. Based on your comments, the gov’t has some REALLY surprising secrets, such as ss vehicles a century ago. shutup

  • mikewms says:

    I live on oak island and have experienced the “booms” many times. We had a daschund who sadly passed this year. In the past, we would notice him acting scared and hiding under furniture or trying to stay in our laps. We finally figured out that when he displayed this behavior, we would have a “boom” within the hour or so. None of the people we know who have pets have experienced this with their animals. The booms are very real, and they vary in intensity. Sometimes it is one “boom”, short and over, while other times it seems to reverberate for a few seconds or so, accompanied by shaking that can be felt in the structure of our home and in the pit of our stomach. We have done much internet research, called certain gov’t agencies, and there does not seem to be a straight answer out there. Baffling….Not tectonics, certainly not sonic from aircraft, DOD won’t admit to any type of testing..land or sea… I tend to lean towards our military and their long record of withholding the truth from citizenry.

  • Guest Reply says:

    Just read an article where NASA has finally concluded that the planet Mars has never had an Earthquake after a 2 billion dollar study…and here’s why:
    It has had Mars quakes!

  • Annie Onymouse says:

    Sunday again at 2pm there was another boom. In Southport you hear them more than 3 times a month. It’s like the same noise that comes from a Factory that has to release gases from their silo’s occasionally like many heard in NM.

    So, is it the Nuclear Power Plant releasing some form of gases, or is it the Tetonic Plates pushing us back out to sea, or could it be a FUTURE SINK HOLE, as the area here is using a lot of water to keep the city of Wilmington going and well, when water is removed from the earth or aquifers there becomes a hole, which can and will someday SINK.

    Why is this question never answered but the Ball Park is asking for money from the Tax Payers? As a Tax Payer, I want some DAMNED ANSWERS FROM THIS TOWN!

  • Anonymous says:

    Guys, these booms are more than likely just sonic booms which are being produced by the SR-71 spy plane replacement or some other experimental black project/classified aircraft and no, I am not trying to be funny by saying that. I am ex-military and can tell you that the Federal government will never come out and say “yeah we were flying an experimental/classified aircraft which was causing you guys’ sonic booms for obvious reasons. Just saying.

  • Mikel2 says:

    I wonder if they had cannons and artillery in the 1800s? I wonder if they had nitroglycerin and Dynamite. I wonder if there were military bases and training. NOPE. Its all a mystery..LOL

  • robertt says:

    My dog does the same 30-45 min before boom I did the same called around I thought I was hearing booms and my dog get tterrified but no one hears it I guess just some people but here in San Diego its assume it the military .

  • Tom G says:

    We just heard it again on 1/15/2013 from Oak Island, NC. It was a rolling rumble sounding more like thunder than a sonic boom. There were no t-storms in the area at the time either. I may have heard a jet shortly after the “drums” though, so your theory could very well be correct. I’d like to think so rather than it being an earthquake or weather related phenomenon. I would feel better if the military would tell us if it’s them.

  • adam says:

    Very strange indeed .. i personally think the booms are coming from alien/ extraterrestrial activity …

  • thumpp says:

    We were on the south side of the RCA… everyone looked North when it happened… I’m not suggesting it was SP, and it is possible we were hearing an echo off the #2 reactor building.

    Now go write an NSR nerdboy

  • John Henry says:

    We are all sure there is no way the noise could be coming the from the largest weapons depot in the Country. Thank you. Darned story maker uppers…

  • meredith says:

    I live downtown wilmington and I woke up at 10am to my washer and dryer shaking violently next to my bedroom(they both moved about 10 in)…didn’t know what was going on. And now it has happened again 12 hours later…and still no explanation?? That’s so frustrating! i smell a coverup

  • Reginald Denny says:

    Thank you to the the fourth fighter wing of SJAFB for rocking our town, The world’s leading MIG killers, if they can not train here, just how far do they have to go to launch. God Bless!

  • Sparrow says:

    My opinion is that as Nibiru gets closer it’s causing gravitational pull on earth which is heating up the magma and causing it to raise closer to the surface. As it does it meets gas deposits and is igniting them, which makes the ‘sonic booms’ heard around the planet. As for the othe weird sounds I think it’s presurized air/? that is being forced out of any opening it can.

    Again…my opinion.

  • ahh nah says:

    sorry , no planet x… your opinion is wrong and your grasp of geology and astronomy is way off

  • Bob Recchio says:

    At around 10:00 am this morning I felt a vibration and heard a loud noise by my window. I thought it was some one working on the house so I looked outside to see what was going on and saw nothing. My wife also felt and heard the same thing. It made our bedroom window vibrate. We live in Magnolia Green Leland, NC 28451.

  • kangandkodos says:

    Kinda fits with underwater launchpad based theories associated with some reported sightings of UFOs by shipmen and pilots. Maybe that’s why we hear them so often near large bodies of water.

  • Cynnelise says:

    Lmao hey… its possible..

  • kangandkodos says:

    UFO?.As suggested by another…..Kinda fits with underwater launchpad type theories associated with some reported sightings of UFOs by shipmen and pilots. Maybe that’s why we hear them so often near large bodies of water.

  • annie onymouse says:

    I like your reply, it’s funny, though, if the aliens are looking for Intelligent life, they sure are in the WRONG PLACE.

    Thanks, I liked your post, it made me smile! I saw the 4th kind and I surely do not believe the planet Earth is the only planet with life, it’s just that in this area, FEW ARE INTELLIGENT!

    PS: See the 4th Kind, it’s a doc on this topic. Pretty good footage, and of course, many cover ups, as is common.

  • thumpp says:

    I was working at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant yesterday and clearly heard the boom. It came from the direction of Sunny Point and sounded like an explosion. I asked a few plant regulars about it and they quickly changed the subject.

    Something weird was going on indeed… and I strongly suspect whatever it was was man made.

  • Oh really? says:

    I work at the Plant too and was there the same time… the sound came from the complete opposite direction and was not remotely close nor coming from Sunny Point. Why would you make up such a story?

  • DS says:

    We heard both the large boom and it shook our office ceiling and walls. We ran outside to see if there was any black smoke in the skyline and saw others who ran outside as well. I have never heard anything like it! It sounded like a huge explosion!

  • Guest56789 says:

    Columbia County officials believe a loud, window-rattling “boom” this morning in the Appling area was caused by blasting at a rock quarry on Columbia Road.

    “(Martin Marietta quarry) just confirmed that they had a shot at 10:30 a.m.,” county Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker said in an email.

    Reports of the noise have come in from across the northern end of the county about the time of the reported blast.

    Initially, officials thought the noise came from a sonic boom created by a military aircraft breaking the sound barrier.

    Martin Marietta was expected to blast rock today, but not until noon, Tucker said.

    Though some thought the boom might have come from an earthquake, Tucker said none have been detected by either the Savannah River Site Geotch Group or by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    There have been widespread reports of a loud noise as far away as North Carolina. One person responding to a Facebook post reported hearing the noise in Wrens, Ga.

    “Considering that they blast every couple of weeks and we never have this kind of response from people to (have) heard or felt it, it must have been a large one,” Tucker said.

    Later, Tucker said that “due to the placement of the blasting in the pit, the energy was expelled out from the shot, causing it to be heard for the distances reported.”

    Blasting is what Columbia Middle School secretary Wendy Prickett assumed she was hearing this morning. “It kind of shook our doors,” she said.

    The school is located next to the Dogwood Quarry, so personnel at Columbia Middle are accustomed to hearing blasting. Typically, though, the blasts occur at the end of the work day, when the quarry usually dynamites rock for removal.

    On Ray Owens Road, about 4 miles away, North Columbia Elementary secretary Nancy Kensinger said “at first we thought somebody was on the roof working,” and then teachers told them the boom shook their interactive boards in their classrooms.

    “It kind of felt like a large gust of wind slamming into the side of our building,” said a Martinez Columbia firefighter at Fire Rescue Station 10 on Ray Owens Road.

  • Tim says:

    I used to live on Columbia Road (15 years) and am familiar with the rock quarry blasts. I now live in Wilmington, NC. What I felt yesterday, and have felt and heard in the past in Wilmington, are not the same as the rock quarry blasts. What we experienced here yesterday happened just after 10:00 am. What was felt in Columbia County was at 10:30. The speed of sound in air is about 12 miles per minute. Evans is about 300 miles from Wilmington. The numbers work out this may have been a huge sonic boom. It was probably too large to be military craft. I am working on a theory that huge atmospheric pressure differentials are being created just off the coast, basically when high pressure and low pressure meet suddenly and the pressure differential has to resolve itself immediately.

  • Kina says:

    Yesterday was my sons first birthday, he was asleep in his crib when we heard loud bangs like a dumpster truck was right by my front door, and our entire house shook. Not sure what it was but you people should stop making jokes about this, its serious. For the entire area the feel and hear the same thing which would seem like a earthquake is sketchy. Yes the military or natural disaster could be an explanation but you people saying ” I was playing my drums etc” need to find something better to do with your time than write on a news channels website making jokes about what happened. Kinda immature. Let’s me realistic here guys. Hopefully we will be given the truth about what the event as soon as they know or if they already do. Because the public deserves an answer for their safety.

  • Guest28461 says:

    most of us make jokes about it because we have lived here our whole lives and have experienced them that long. we’re used to them. i know ive been here for 30 years and feel them all the time and in those 30 years no one has ever been able to explain them…doubt they will have an answer about it anytime soon

  • just saying k says:

    she said it was her/hims opinion. no need to be rude. and how could you say she/he is way off when scientists dont even know whats going on?

  • Ray says:

    No this happened around 10:30am – this earthquake in VA happened at 12:15 this morning. The only explanation of this is the earthquake from Japan! It was a mag of 5.5 at 502km deep.

  • Eri says:

    I would really like to know what causes this sort of thing in our area!

  • ShipWatch says:

    I felt the shaking here on North Topsail Beach. It lasted like 30 seconds. I didn’t hear anything though. I live close enough to Camp LeJeune that when they are setting off bombs I usually feel them and hear them. They only last a second though. This felt like an Earthquake to me.

  • Amanda says:

    I agree with you that it was no “guns”. It lasted roughly about that long as well here, except it was two seperate times. Maybe it was an aftershock from Virginia… who knows.

  • Amanda says:

    I live in Ogden and also felt this. Only I didn’t hear no noice. My house started making sounds as if a strong wind just hit it, but no trees were moving outside and as soon as I realized it wasn’t the wind my whole house shook. The roof moved enough to scare me and grab my child just incase anything bad was going to happen. I’m not sure if it was a tremmor or something else. I also heard that there could have been a plane crash near by. Whatever the case is, I just want to know what the heck scared the crap out of me and my child. :)

  • Guest1 says:

    Someone posted on my FB page that they felt it in Greenville at the same time. It’s hard to believe that could be Seneca Guns that far away. Felt more like a small tremor.

  • GuestGoozer says:

    Report it here for usgs to follow up… Time on previous link incorrect for that kind of sharke.. Patio door bounced open… wtfo..

    Report Link to USGS

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/dyfi/form.php?enabled=false

  • Guest Reply says:

    God fell down!!!

  • dwannac says:

    I felt it very strong in Supply, NC too. This one lasted a while. I am on the same line as the military planes that fly over and sometimes they cause the house to shake, but this was no airplane. I’ve been feeling these since the 1960’s and it’s hard to believe that they still haven’t figured out what it is. I’ve always heard from my older relatives that it’s the plates shifting in the ocean. They are fishermen and they use to feel it in their boats while fishing.

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