Possible Causes

Noises of unexplained origin have been reported for centuries in various parts of the world. Periodically, with the prevalence of “mystery boom” reports that appear in the media, a number of theories have been offered as explanations for the phenomenon. Among these, earthquakes and similar seismic events such as frost quakes remain among the more popular theories that involve natural phenomena.

Among their possible causes, manmade sources behind some of the phenomena have also been suggested. For instance, sonic booms resulting from various kinds of aircraft have also been proposed, particularly following news articles in the UK which made the case for secret aviation technologies toward the end of 2014. (1) Specifically, “pulse detonation engines” employed by various top secret military aircraft were proposed, which an aerospace expert compared with recordings of certain unexplained sounds made around the time. (1) Other theories for the sounds have included meteorites, or even a Russian satellite falling to Earth. (2) 

Below, we offer a complete listing of different proposed explanations for mystery booms reported in various parts of the world, with links to pages that discuss them. It remains likely, however, that more than any one supposed explanation would be required, in order to explain the broader number of incidents constituting data we have about these phenomena. This is based on the expectation that a number of factors must be considered in relation to each report of a supposed “mystery boom,” and treated to proper scrutiny on a case-for-case basis. Also, in many cases simpler explanations such as fireworks, exploding transformers, gunfire, and other prosaic sources cannot be ruled out.

A few popular theories about the cause of mystery booms include the following:

Superbolts and Upper Atmosphere Storms

Frost Quakes (or Cryoseisms): A Geological Perspective

Sonic Booms and Mystery Aircraft

Other phenomena that may be related to reports of mysterious noises around the world: 

“Anomalous Sounds in Nature” Catalogued by William R. Corliss

Are Booms Linked to Climate Change?

“Exploding Head Syndrome”: A Psychological Perspective


  1. “So secret, its existence is not even acknowledged: Futuristic ‘Aurora’ spy plane that travels at SIX TIMES the speed of sound is blamed for mysterious booms heard at the weekend” Daily Mail, December 1, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2855795/So-secret-existence-not-acknowledged-Futuristic-Aurora-spy-plane-travels-SIX-TIMES-speed-sound-blamed-mysterious-booms-heard-weekend.html
  2. “Is this proof mysterious bangs heard on both sides of Atlantic WERE caused by a top-secret US jet? Footage of hypersonic engine in action reveals it sounds almost identical to unexplained noises” Daily Mail, December 1, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2855802/Is-proof-mysterious-bangs-heard-sides-Atlantic-caused-secret-jet-Footage-hypersonic-engine-action-reveals-sounds-identical-unexplained-noises.html
  3. “Mystery of the loud boom that shook homes over upstate New York AND the UK at exactly the same time despite being 3,000 miles apart.” Daily Mail, November 30, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2855046/Could-loud-boom-heard-upstate-New-York-related-rumbling-noise-reported-UK-exactly-time.html