For centuries, a variety of different sounds classified as “mysterious noises” have been documented around the world. Such noises are often likened to thunder-like “booms” or explosions, and in many instances the sounds remain of unexplained origin, though a number of suggestions have been made as to what their causes may be.
In recent years, an increase in media coverage of the phenomenon, along with new theories about their cause, have led to new interest in the phenomenon. However, scientific literature documents that “mystery noises” have occurred for some time, as documented by researchers the likes of David P. Hill, Scientist Emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey, (1) and the American Physicist William R. Corliss. (2)
Are “mystery booms” a new phenomenon?
Despite much attention the subject has received since 2014, loud noises of unexplained origin have been commonly reported throughout history. The term “Seneca guns” has been used in reference to reports of loud booms reported for decades along North Carolina’s Outer Banks; the nickname, however, has its roots further north, where similar mystery noises have been reported around New York’s Catskill Mountains near the vicinity of Lake Seneca. It is further believed that these sounds were referenced in literary works such as Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Lake Gun”. (1) In Greenland, French Explorers near Scoresby Sound in the 1930s once described a deep, foghorn-like noise that has been called “Ton der Dove-Bai”. (2) Elsewhere around the world, the Bay of Bengal has its “Bansal guns”, while booms known as “yan” have been reported near Shikoku, Japan. The Italian Apennines also have their version of thunderous phenomenon of unexplained origin, similar to the Belgian descriptions of mistpouffers, or “fog belches”. (1)
This site will examine the numerous possible causes of mystery booms heard in different places worldwide, based on data drawn from scientific resources, periodicals, and other publications that have documented the phenomenon in recent years.
- Hill, David. “What is That Mysterious Booming Sound?” Seismological Society of America Journal, September/October, 2011. http://www.seismosoc.org/publications/SRL/SRL_82/srl_82-5_op/hill_op.html
- Corliss, William R. Earthquakes, tides, unidentified sounds and related phenomena: A catalogue of geophysical anomalies. Sourcebook Project, November 1983.