With reports of mysterious booms occurring around the world, many theories have been proposed as to what their cause may be. In addition to different kinds of natural phenomena that may be associated with some of the sounds, questions are often asked about whether human activities may play a role in the underlying cause, raising concerns about activities such as hydraulic fracturing (more commonly called “fracking”) and, more specifically, anthropogenic climate change and global warming.
According to the US Geological Survey’s FAQ page titled, “Earthquake Booms, Seneca Guns, and Other Sounds”, global warming is not likely to be a factor that influences strange booms and other anomalous noises heard around the world. “[T]he articles that suggest [global warming] don’t offer any explanation of how a gradual warming of the atmosphere would produce something as sudden as a loud boom,” the USGS statement reads. “Also, global warming would affect the whole globe, whereas Seneca guns have only been reported from a few areas.”
Similar concerns have been raised about whether holes in the ozone layer might contribute to the mystery booms. However, the USGS FAQ page further notes that holes in the ozone layer have been observed over the north and south poles, rather than parts of the U.S. where booms have been reported, or in other parts of the world where similar phenomena have been reported, such as India.
The author notes that, “The reasons why [holes in the ozone layer] form are well understood, although I don’t understand them myself because I’m a geologist, and the reasons apply only to polar areas.”
“There does not appear to be any agreement on what causes the Seneca guns,” the report concludes. “They have been occurring in several places around the eastern U.S. and in India for at least a century or two.” The author comments further that, “As far as I can tell, they have worried people but they have never caused damage or injury.”
“The Earth is a complex place and there is a lot about it that we don’t understand. Perhaps someday we will understand what causes Seneca guns, but right now we don’t understand what makes them. However, they do not seem to pose a threat to anyone.”
- “Earthquake Booms, Seneca Guns, and Other Sounds.” USGS Website. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/booms.php