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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

Image credit: CC 3.0 R N Marshman


Posted on Friday, 11 March, 2011 | 1 comment
Columnist: William B Stoecker

[!gad]We live for the most part on the surface of the land, although we travel through the sky and on the surface of the sea. Rarely do most of us venture underground, and never to any great depth. Only two men have been to the deepest trench in the sea, and only a handful have ventured far beyond our atmosphere. And strange and sometimes frightening mysteries emerge from under the sea, under the Earth, and, especially, from the sky. It is in the sky (and sometimes emerging from or entering the sea) that we see UFOs. Blocks of ice, fish, frogs, and other things fall from the sky, with no explanation. And then there are the “skyquakes”…loud, booming sounds, rather like cannon fire, with no known origin.

The small town of Moodus, Connecticut is plagued by loud booms that seem to come from the area of Cave Hill and Mt. Tom. Skeptics attribute these noises to shallow earthquakes, and there was a real earthquake there on 5/6/1791, but no tremors have been recorded when the noises are heard. The local Algonquin and other Indians believed that the noises were caused by the demon Hobomock, and called the area “Matchimoodus” or”Matchemadoset,” meaning “place of bad noises.”

Barisal, on the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh at the mouth of the Ganges River, has the “Barisal Guns.” Beginning at least as far back as the eighteen seventies, there were reports of “cannon fire” in groups of two or three, coming from the south or southwest (the Bay), usually from February through October, and seldom from November through January, with no earthquakes detected or thunderstorms reported. The monsoon usually arrives in June and lasts through September, covering only part of the time when the “guns” are commonly heard.

Similar mysterious booming sounds are called “mistpoeffers” in Belgium and the Netherlands, or “marinas” or “brontodi” in Italy, “retembos” in the Philippines, and “fog guns” in several other places. Loud booms have been reported from Western Australia and the State of Victoria, from New Brunswick, Canada near Passamquoddy Bay, Cedar Keys in Florida, Lough Neagh in Ireland, the Adriatic, northern Georgia (the one in the United States), and Franklinville, New York. In New York State they are called the “Seneca Guns.” Lewis and Clark reported a mysterious booming sound on 7/4/1805.

No earthquakes have been reported during these events, and none detected in modern times, when seismographs are common. Meteorites can fall anywhere, but the noises are most common in a relatively small number of locations, which makes this explanation seem highly improbable; in addition, no meteorites were reported when the sounds were heard. But there is a possible conventional explanation. A number of researchers have suggested that the noises are caused by anomalous propagation of sounds…particularly thunder…from great distances. There is no doubt that this can happen; naval gunfire has been heard far from the battle at certain locations. And it is reasonable to suppose that the topography and common atmospheric conditions of certain areas might make this more common in some locations than in others; note that most, but not all of these reports are from coastal areas. Against this is the fact that the sounds are usually not the long, echoing rumble of distant thunder, but the sharp boom heard when lightning strikes nearby. Also, the Barisal guns are heard not only during the monsoon but months before, when thunderstorms anywhere in South Asia or the Bay of Bengal or the Northern Indian Ocean are practically nonexistent. Still, we cannot rule this out as a possible, perhaps even likely explanation. Of course, in modern times sonic booms are a possible explanation, despite the routine denials by the military, and perhaps the sonic booms could also be carried from a great distance by anomalous propagation…but that does not explain the earlier reports.

Then there is the “Taos hum,” and similar sounds reported from other locations, including Hawaii, New Zealand, and, as early as the nineteen seventies, Bristol, England. In Taos, New Mexico (in the haunted rift zone written of by Christopher O’Brien) the sound was not heard until the nineteen nineties, when the small percentage of people who report hearing it said that it seemed to switch on quite suddenly. A number of the people who are plagued by the sound have been tested and show no signs of tinnitus or any other auditory or neurological problems, and they can usually escape the sound by changing location, all of which seems to indicate that it is caused by something physical and localized. Experiments have shown that a high frequency AM radio signal can be “heard” by some people, bypassing the ears and directly affecting the nerves or the auditory centers of the brain, and this would seem to explain the sound, and, especially, the fact that people cannot escape it by staying indoors or even by wearing earplugs. Against this is the fact that Tom Moir of Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand was able to record the sound, which, as usual, resembled the noise of a diesel engine idling at some distance. Also, some people report, not only the sound, but vibrations which they can feel.

And so we are left with a mystery that may have a conventional explanation…or maybe not. The booming sounds and the humming sounds may or may not be related. Perhaps someday the mystery will be solved. Or perhaps, like so many other strange and mysterious events, it will continue to be unexplained.

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

  Other articles by William B Stoecker

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