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What are Seneca guns?

Ben Steelman

Mysterious noises, often compared to rolling thunder or distant cannon fire, are frequently heard off the Cape Fear coast and the Myrtle Beach area. Although reported regularly at points up and down the Eastern Seaboard, Seneca guns seem particularly concentrated off the Carolinas.

To date, no satisfactory scientific explanation for the phenomenon has been found.

The name “Seneca Guns” seems to come from Seneca Lake in upstate New York, where the sounds are often heard. In 1850, James Fenimore Cooper (author of “Last of the Mohicans”) wrote a story, “The Lake Gun,” describing the phenomenon, which seems to have popularized the term. (An alternate explanation, linking “Seneca Guns” to an obscure Civil War battle in Seneca, Ga., seems dubious.)

The sounds are heard in coastal areas; observers insist they are never heard at sea. In 2005 and 2008, residents in Brunswick County reported they were loud enough to rattle windows and shake houses. In December 2001, a Seneca gun event prompted more than 100 calls to New Hanover County authorities. No serious damage, however, has ever been attributed to a Seneca gun.

Some Seneca gun events are attributed to military jets breaking the sound barrier, but the phenomenon has been reported in this area periodically since at least the 1850s, well before the air age. Southport historian Susie Carson insisted that the noises are most common in fall, although reports have been logged at all times of the year.

In 2005, Tyler Clark, chief geologist with the N.C. Geological Survey, guessed that the most likely cause for Seneca guns would be shallow earthquakes occurring offshore. The problem, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, is that many Seneca gun reports cannot be connected to quakes detected by seismographs. Seneca gun-like noises were reported, however, in connection with the Charleston, S.C., earthquake of 1886.

Peter Malin, a seismologist formerly with Duke University, speculates that the “guns” are somehow atmospheric in origin; his experience suggests the vibrations come from above ground level, rather than below. In the summer of 2001, Malin installed a seismograph in a 1,300-foot bore hole near the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, in an effort to detect mini-quakes; the project was never properly funded, though, and Malin was never able to record any results.

The “guns” seem connected to similar phenomena heard in different parts of the world, such as the “Barisal guns” in parts of India and Bangladesh, the “uminari” of Japan and the “mistpouffers” on the coast of the Netherlands and Belgium.

Explanations as exotic as UFOs and the angry ghosts of Indians have been put forward.

The U.S. Geological Survey Web site rules out a few causes: Tidal waves (none reported in connection with Seneca guns), lightning (Seneca guns often occur during clear skies in fair weather), shifts in tectonic plates (the nearest plate boundaries to Southeastern North Carolina are hundreds of miles away, in the mid-Atlantic and Caribbean), loud meteors called bolides (might explain some but not all of the guns), landslides off the continental shelf (none reported during recorded history), sink holes forming (not enough limestone deposits in the area, although plenty of sink holes occur near Boiling Spring Lakes in Brunswick County), cold air meeting warm Gulf Stream air (no explanation for how this could cause booming noises) or pockets of air, trapped underground being released (such seepage rarely makes a sound).

Several people have suggested that the noises may be caused by the release of bubbles of methane; deposits of methane clathrate hydrate are known to occur in the area. Again, however, methane seepage does not usually cause a noise, and it does not come up in large enough quantities to cause explosions.

Residents feel a shake, but geologist says it wasn’t an earthquake

Have you heard the area’s mysterious booms recently? Tell us where you were (and see the map)

Got a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Click here to let us know!

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51 Responses to “ What are Seneca guns?”

  1. On November 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm David Peacock wrote:

    Regarding the Seneca Guns

    I’m a resident of Southport, and Boiling Spring lakes, NC.
    I have often heard the Seneca Guns down here.
    On one occasion back in the early 90’s i was working at the local Firestone garage in Southport.
    There at the garage, we had 3 large bay doors that we had closed due to the cooling weather. On that particular day we got hit with the Seneca Guns, three in a row. I remember seeing the doors literally move in and out due to the pressure of the wave. I realized then it was an atmospheric phenomena, literally a giant pressure wave.
    I have also noticed when they hit, it is almost always a day when the humidity is relatively low for that time of year.
    Anyway thank you for the article. I enjoyed reading it.
    David peacock

  2. On November 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm Denise Bradley wrote:

    Through all of my correspondance with the USGS over the years.. there are many things that can can cause the “sonic like booms” that we encounter.. ex: warm front meets cold front, vice versa, military aircraft breaking sound barrier, miltary ships off of the coast doing exercises, ground breaking for landscaping, just to name the most obvious few. However over the past 10 years.. there has never been military breaking sound barrier.. or sudden and I do mean sudden temperature changes that have influenced such a thing.. it has also happened day and night. I have spoken with them on many an occasion about the likely hood of us feeling tremors from nearby earthquakes in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia and none of those panned out either.. because there were none. I have even dove into the topic of the Continental Shelf breaking off in large landslides.. but such a thing would also cause a tidal wave and no one at the beach has reported any such anomalie… this does happen in many places around the world from the New England States to Florida and I believe even in India. They had said it was sounds of Indians defending their land ie Seneca Guns.. Ghosts defending their land.. I have even been told that it is an echo of guns that continues to circle the earth.. by one USGS representative.., unfortunately.. I believe it is signs of something yet to happen that has not been investigated deep enough yet and I have requested OBS’s (Ocean Bottom Seismometer) to be placed off of our coasts, but they have declined saying the ones they have, are currently placed off the west coast and around the ring of fire near Alaska… So… again. here we sit.. Now I have heard many people come up the with same conclusion that we are probably about to drop into the center of the Earth in a massive sink hole.. so I inquired about that.. and Sinkholes only happen in Limestone and we do not have Limestone in these areas.. Anybodies guess is as good as mine.. The only reason I know about them is because I am writing about them.. To add many years ago.. there was a Siesmologist who had Siesmographs positioned at Ft. Fisher due to the occurences.. but the funding just wasnt there to keep them in our location.. so.. what a bummer.. we still have no answers. uggggh..

  3. On November 6, 2010 at 2:10 am Terri wrote:

    I can remember as early in 1978, my dad run the boatyard at Southport Marina, the widows would rattle. I heard it myself many many times. Dad (Dick Harrman). . Said it was a ghost ship off the shore shooting cannons. It was a nice story anyway.

  4. On November 6, 2010 at 10:36 am David wrote:

    I felt a large one yesterday (11-5-2010) in Kure Beach around 2:15pm, large enough to rattle the front door and just felt another smaller one today (11-6-2010) around 10:10am, much smaller than yesterdays but still noticeable, then a smaller rumble around 10:20. I was just Googling to try and find out what it was and stumbled upon this article. Interesting phenomenon for sure.

  5. On November 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm Erica wrote:

    Whatever this is it shook my house yesterday around 2 pm and today at 10 am. My windows rattled doors opened. I live off of river road close to Carolina beach nc. I would just like answers. I did call the earthquake center but had to leave a msg. We will see.

  6. On November 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm Pat Goodman wrote:

    We heard (or felt…always hard to say after it happens!) the two yesterday morning as well. A couple of years ago, my kids and I had just entered our empty home on a clear, sunny autumn afternoon and heard/felt one. It was so loud, it sounded as if someone was stomping around on our second floor. Reminded me of an earthquake, but the floor under our feet wasn’t moving. We left the house as we thought there might be a very noisy intruder, and went over to our neighbor’s home, who had experienced it as well. We re-entered the house and of course it was all clear. I did a little research and learned about our coastal Carolina Seneca guns. Yesterday morning, it once again sounded like someone was jumping around upstairs. My teenagers were sleeping in, and I thought one of them had fallen out of bed. They really appreciated my checking to see if they were ok…. (not). Interesting to find this write up; one of my other neighbors, from Virginia, is also interested and mystified. So while we still don’t know the cause of these Seneca guns, at least we know they don’t seem to cause any harm….. unless you’re a sleepy teenager with a helicopter mom.

  7. On November 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm Jarhead wrote:

    My wife and I were at Kure Beach the weekend of 11-5 and 11-6 to do some fishing. When I say that nothing was biting, I mean NOTHING ===not even skates. The odd single whiting, no spots, no blues, no nothing. We were told that the commercial fishing boats came back in empty.
    The proposed cause was Seneca’s Guns. Several people stated they heard and felt a vibration strong enough to rattle windows both Friday and Saturday but these experiences were away from the beach. Out on the pier at 10am Saturday, we neither heard nor felt anything but apparenlty there was yet another episode. We were told that it was the result of boulders breaking off the continental shelf and falling to the bottom, which sets off seismic waves which grow in intensity as they approach the coast–and it was these waves which scares the fish off. Something made the fish leave.

  8. On November 8, 2010 at 7:29 am Mike Watson wrote:

    Re Senica gund
    My Allen ancesters who lived on Allens creek in Brunswic co sqaid the sound of cannons were heard in 1716 and thereafter were because the pirates were fighting over mermaids who dried their hair on Mermaid point which is on the west end of Oak Island. They are still fighting today.
    Mike Watson

  9. On November 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm Steven I wrote:

    This same thing happened in Little River, SC 11/17/2010.
    Just at a very large scale. I wrote this story to Brian with Star News.

    Approx 11:00am this morning, 11/17/2010 a very large “explosion” was felt in Little River SC. Large as in, it shook our 4 story condo building like it weighed nothing. Others came out of other buildings seperate of ours and talked as if it felt thier buildings had been picked up and slammed back down. After going throughout the neighborhood checking on others we called 911. They was unsure of cause but had been receiving calls as far south as North Myrtle Beach. We went further into our neighborhood, blocks away, and heard all the same story throughout the neighborhood. This was violent. Not a subtle movement at all. Absolutely violent. I was a Combat Engineer in the Army, and what I felt this morning would far exceed anything I have felt explosion wise. I have lived in Alaska and felt many minor earthquakes, this FAR exceeded that. This began and ended I would say in 3-4 seconds. But it was massive.
    This was way too big not to have a explanation. No Way!
    I have wrote all news sources in this area. NOTHING. Something this big, and no news story attached???? I am not buying the “just something freaky” excuse.

  10. On November 18, 2010 at 11:49 am Amber Townsend wrote:

    I just experienced this for the first time about a half an hour ago. There was a distant boom sound and my entire house shook. It rattled the stove. I had no idea what it was until others reported the same thing on their Facebook statuses calling it “seneca guns” Very interesting phenomenon.

  11. On November 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm Kim wrote:

    This is very interesting. I have heard them repetedly all day today and a few yesterday. Was just trying to figure out what it was and i found this. It really does sound just like distant thunder or in the case of the one that just happened an explosion and it shook the house. I have to say they are a little scarry at first, not knowing what they are and it rattleing the house. However, i feel like i almost pay no attention to it anymore being used to it, it is facinating though. I remember one years ago that did not rattle the house, the house shook i swear i thought it was a small earthquake. very odd they are. anyway thanks for the artical.

  12. On November 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm John wrote:

    Loud one yesterday at around 10:30 am in Southport/St James, and another one this morning around 10:00am.

  13. On November 19, 2010 at 1:52 pm Jim Ware wrote:

    The StarNews is attempting to track when and where the booms and shakes are happening. Please click on this link to fill out a simple survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P6M3B87
    Once we have enough results, we’ll create a map and share the results with everyone.

  14. On November 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm ilmlvr wrote:

    Does anyone out there have camera surveillance with sound that we could take a look at? I’d like to see/hear this phenomenon.

  15. On November 20, 2010 at 7:45 pm Greg wrote:

    Ive been in the southport/oak island area for around 18 years and have always been mystified by these booms but of course never been giving a scientific explanation. I too have seem to gotten used to them and dont even really pay them attention anymore other than knowing we’ve been hit again. Its nice to see so many people talking about and looking into this….maybe one day we will get an answer. But its seems like lately these booms have been coming a lot more frequently sometimes a couple a day and hitting every couple or every day. It seems like it use to be a random event with long periods in between but its really picked up lately and has got me wondering whats causing the increase in frequency.

  16. On March 20, 2011 at 8:28 am jean wrote:

    Have you ever noticed that there are two types of Seneca Guns. I live on Holden Beach and you can actually tell the difference. The first one is a downward compression, almost like a concussion from and explosion, ( usually accompanied by the sound of jets in a distance) and the ground moving big boomers. I have watched the house move up and down in a wave pattern. I love when they guns start booming and first time visitors are at the beach.They all look like deer in headlights.
    I don’t know what causes them or why, but The Guns keep life interesting.

  17. On November 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm Stanley Bozarth wrote:

    My wife and I live near Figure 8 island. Yesterday, Nov 25 2011, the Seneca Guns started at about 7:30 pm and continued for at least 20-30 minutes. We felt nothing. It had the sound of distant artillery with some booms louder than others…but with a continuing rumble. ps..I was an artillery officer in Vietnam. We’ve heard this numerous times and I always wonder if, this time, it is the ammo depot going up in smoke.

  18. On December 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm gregory wrote:

    yesterday Nov 8th 2011 i felt a small shaking and boom in Calabash NC, last night a large one hit shaking the house ad a large boom. last nights was also reported online by WECT from wilimnington nc.

    i lived here about 6 years and felt these about 10 times before i read about seneca guns.

  19. On February 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm Thom wrote:

    Two very violent booms around 11:50 this morning on Oak Island, possibly the loudest guns I’ve heard since moving to the area 6 years ago

  20. On February 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm Sue wrote:

    Today, around 10 am, there were two loud booms heard in St. James. The booms were coming from the direction of Oak Island.
    Feb. 28, 2012

  21. On February 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm sydney wrote:

    On the morning of February 28, 2012, I was on the phone with someone on Wrightsville Beach. I live near Bradley Creek. I felt a good 5 second shake where my windows rattled. About 3 seconds after l started feeling the shake, and before I mentioned what was happening, the person on the phone felt it as well. It seemed to last a little longer on the beach.

    I have felt these things ever since I moved to Wilmington in 1990. A bit of scientific curiosity about this might be nice at some time. For now, I guess the tale of the Seneca Guns will have to do.

  22. On March 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm Claudette Cohen wrote:

    The Blake Ridge off the coast of the Carolinas is one of the largest methane hydrate fields on earth. It’s basically natural gas under so much pressure it has solidified into crystals. Minute seismic activity or temperature fluctuations have the potential to cause these crystals to sublimate–become gas and rise to the surface. Anyone who dives knows that rapidly rising gas bubbles expand, water gets displaced, the bubbles rupture at the surface—to put it simply, the sea farts.

    Seneca gun phenomena have been reported in areas of methane hydrate fields the world over.

    Here’s the hilarious part: there’s a scientific theory gaining wide acceptance that the largest extinction of life ever to occur on earth was caused by warming seas releasing vast amounts of methane from such hydrate fields, which a) drastically reduced air quality so that life suffocated and b) snowballed in that the hotter it got, the more methane was released, making it hotter, meaning more methane was released… This was the Permian extinction, which killed 99% of all species. The beginnings of this scenario have already been observed by scientists in the Russian tundra. That is, methane hydrates are being released into the air.

    Most of the research being conducted on the Blake Ridge deposit is geared toward “harnessing” the fuel for profit, not to continue life on earth.

  23. On May 23, 2012 at 10:03 am Ron veenker wrote:

    May 23, 2012 @ Holden Beach between 9:00 and10:00 am.
    We have heard and felt several significant rumbles.

  24. On March 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm Billy Gamblin wrote:

    The mysterious guns are in our area again once again, Brunswick County, North Carolina. Twice this week. February 28,2013 and today March 3, 2013. The sound and vibration shook the windows on our house

  25. On March 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm Mark Umscheid wrote:

    I am surprised that there have been no government funded research into the cause of these loud booms. I’ve lived at Kure Beach for 10 years and myself as well as others I know can attest that these loud atmospheric booms capable of ratteling windows do occur. I’ve heard them on at least 5 occasions, both in the daytime and at night. On almost all occasions the weather was seasonable and the skies were clear of clouds.

  26. On March 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm Mark wrote:

    I live in the middle Georgia area and have heard these booms for many years. Had 2 last week that shook the house. I attribute most of them to sonic booms. But when they are back to back and 3 or 4 in a row makes one wonder. Loud enough to be heard across the county and strong enough to shake the house and rattle windows. We located 30 miles south of the Georgia coastal fall line, so that could have something to do with it.

  27. On March 26, 2013 at 10:18 am Si Cantwell wrote:

    Interesting. I heard on in Charlotte on a pretty afternoon in the early 1980s — the newspaper could find no explanation. It’s a frequent phenomenon here in Southeastern North Carolina.

  28. On April 25, 2013 at 7:18 am Mike Watson wrote:

    The guns you hear are the pirates Steed Bonnet and Blackbeard fighting off our coast. Mike Watson

  29. On July 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm virtual private server wrote:

    Very interesting info !Perfect just what I was searching for!

  30. On July 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm Vincent Krasniewicz wrote:

    Today 7/10/2013 we heard the Seneca Guns while playing golf at Brunswick Plantation about 10:30AM. Talked to others and they said they heard the booms also.

  31. On October 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm Dennis Harper wrote:

    We’ve heard descriptions of the sounds and all the theories. My belief is hard data is needed. I have an idea on how interested people in the area can use their home computers to capture data for scientific analysis.

    What’s needed is a handful of volunteers with skills in electronics, computer science and organizational skills.

    The most basic data capture hardware to be hooked to a computer would require some simple things that can be found at Radio Shack. No special software is needed, there is plenty of freeware available. A person with computer skills can help determine what program is best. This is not a project that requires a full time online connection but accuracy improves when connected 24/7.

    I believe a good local source of tech talent can be found at schools like UNC or Duke. I’d love for them to run it but professors tend to be pressed for time dealing with existing work.

    Forgive me for being vague on how this would work. It’s to early to go public.

    Hey, is Denise Bradley listening? You’d be the right person to marshal some local talent together.
    Dennis Harper

  32. On October 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    The StarNews has been trying informally to get people to map where they are when they hear the booms. Learn about it at:

  33. On October 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm Tim wrote:

    I lived on the island of Sunset Beach in Brunswick County from 200 to 2010. During that time I experienced at least a half dozen Sonic Booms. Some of these Booms were so strong that it rattled the entire house from the foundation up. I would run outside startled only to see nothing in the sky above that I could relate this occurrence to.

    I had never known of this phenomenon until I watched a recent television show. I am sure that what I experienced was what others have reported. These booms were not subtle, they were strong. Strong enough to awaken my wife and I several times. One time I thought surely something had exploded nearby.

  34. On October 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Whatever they are, I’m glad they’re not something worse!

  35. On October 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm Joyce Taylor wrote:

    I was thinking these noises could be made by methain gas comming up from the bottem of the ocean. The bubbles would have to be large.

  36. On December 24, 2013 at 1:18 am Edward Bernier wrote:

    I live in Broadalbin NY. 13 mi. north of Amsterdam NY.
    I heard what sounded like cannon fire in the summer of 2013near my home. There were about six Booms over two days. I called the sheriff and personally reported it to the deputy who came to the house. He came back two days later and said he checked with other nearby residents and thet heard the sounds as well. Today, Dec. 23 my friend heard the noises this morrning. I was in the house but heard nothing.
    In the firsst incident, one boom shook the house and the windows rattled.
    We’ve klived here 24 years and this is the first year we heard the noises. .

  37. On December 24, 2013 at 11:49 am Si Cantwell wrote:

    Someone from our Rocky Point community heard unexplained loud booms on Dec. 22. Those Senecas must be very active!

  38. On December 28, 2013 at 1:28 am Theresa wrote:

    I have heard booms from earthquakes. They are very loud pop that rattles everything and it sounds like rock splitting not like a sonic boom. I say this for two reasons my husband was in Navy and he has heard sonic booms from jets and so did I as they do show off for families on a cruise and when the earthquake happened that popped it was my first ever earthquake. My very first thought was not an explosion but of rock being cracked, I knew what it was.

    I believe these booms are from the air, not fond of weather causes but they do cause booms but why there? The same place in a non recorded conversion zone does not add up to me. The stories of the yellow glowing balls are interesting and would suggest some form of gas being released. (Or UFO but not going there).

    I believe they are a natural occurrence

  39. On February 3, 2014 at 10:46 am George Mangum wrote:

    I was wondering if the Seneca booms could have anything to do with the munitions facility located at Sunny Point. What happens when they have old, unstable, bombs or artillery shells? If they’re exploding these munitions it would certainly cause quite a “boom” for some distance. Prevalent atmospheric conditions at the time would dictate where the explosions are heard.
    I am also surprised that no one mentions the prevalent sightings of UFO’s around the area for the past 100 years – especially around the Green Swamp and Long Beach area. The State Port Pilot headline of August 13, 1952 – ” Beach Invaded by Flying Saucers” It reported that more than a dozen persons on Long Beach saw fiery objects flash
    the evening sky the previous Friday. One woman described the phenomenon as being larger than the moon, green in color and giving off a glow. It crossed the horizon at an incredible speed. It just flashed out from oceanward and was gone over the horizon in an instant, Almost overhead it passed behind a cloud and emerged, giving it the effect of traveling in an arc. The ‘saucer’ was also seen from the golf course, and other points along the beach. On Sunday night another object was seen, but it was smaller, and orange in color, but also traveling very fast. There have also been several stories of UFO sightings in the news recently located near Holden and Ocean Isle beaches. Connections?

  40. On February 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    If the Seneca guns were explosions at Sunny Point, law enforcement people in Brunswick County would probably know about it. Sometimes they’re heard in Kings Grant but not at the beachs, so I don’t think that’s the case.
    UFOs, on the other hand, might be a more plausible explanation. Or not…

  41. On March 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm K. R. Campbell wrote:

    This morning, March 10, 2013, there was a boom substantial enough to shake the house as if someone had dropped a huge weight on the floor. Evidently, it was felt all around the Southport/Oak Island area.

  42. On March 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm Nancy T. wrote:

    I am originally from the Rochester, New York area and I recently read a little about where the name “Seneca Guns” may have come from, Seneca, New York, not far from I lived. I had forgotten about the phenomenon of the “Lake Guns” until I read about it again! Even more curious is that I now, I live in the Tampa Bay Region of Florida, about a mile and a half from the Gulf of Mexico near Tarpon Springs and I hear the Seneca Guns here. I just thought it was McDill Air Force Base or storms way out in the gulf, but then it happened too much to always be the Air Force and it would occur with no storms in the Gulf at all. I have noticed that here it seems seasonal and occurs during spring and fall most of the time, but it does also occur during the summer months. There is range that goes from a minor window rattle all the way up to the house shaking and the glass doors really flexing. Sometimes there an audible “boom” and others there is an extended period of time, several seconds that the glass doors are rattling and or flexing without the boom. I have attributed it to some sort of large air pressure phenomenon that is not visible on radar that causes a large concussive force. Since the ground typically does not move when this happens it would seem to rule out earthquake activity. I used to live near a quarry in New York that did blasting that would shake the house and shake the ground with quite a rumbling sound similar to rolling thunder, but there was not usually an actual “boom” since it is denotated underground. It has mimicked that sound without ground shaking. Other neighbors have heard or experienced as well.

  43. On March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Interesting, thanks for sharing!

  44. On February 7, 2015 at 11:23 pm Claudette Cohen wrote:

    “We hypothesize that erosion of the seafloor via bottom-water currents unroofed buoyant hydrate-laden
    sediments and subhydrate overpressured free gas zones beneath the anticline. Once triggered, gas-driven erosion created a positive feedback mechanism, releasing gas and eroding hydrate bearing sediment. We suggest that erosive currents in deep-water methane hydrate provinces act as hair triggers, destabilizing kilometer-scale swaths of the seafloor where large concentrations
    of underlying overpressured methane exist. Our analysis suggests that kilometer-scale degassing events are widespread, and that deep-water hydrate reservoirs can rapidly release methane in massive quantities. …Most mechanisms for large-scale methane release at hydrate provinces involve gas migration along focused vent systems (e.g., Westbrook et al., 2009) where gas flows
    through narrow conduits that leave sediment little changed and form small (meter-scale) pockmarks at the seafloor (e.g., Paull et al., 1995), implying small-scale release. Other larger-scale mechanisms involve landslides or seafloor erosion that disrupt the hydrate and unroof underlying free gas (Paull et al., 2003),
    with notable examples of massive methane release like Blake Ridge (offshore southeastern United States) (Holbrook et al., 2002).” From “Massive methane release triggered by seafloor erosion offshore southwestern Japan” The latest scientific paper cited in the USGS’s site which claims that methane release only occurs gradually is 2000. The most recent research confirms that released methane can cause a sizeable sonic disruption. If you have billions of even microscopic bubbles breaking the surface, it does not need to ignite to create a rumble.

  45. On March 17, 2015 at 11:17 am drew wrote:

    i have recorded the booms Seneca guns from Morehead city,nc .. would anyone be interested in hearing it..

  46. On June 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm Robin J. Boucher wrote:

    From the Seismological Society regarding new info on what sounds similar to our Seneca Guns:
    “New Study: Origins of Red Sea’s Mysterious ‘Cannon Earthquakes’ Revealed
    For many generations, Bedouin people living in the Abu Dabbab area on the Egyptian Red Sea coast have heard distinct noises—like the rumbling of a quarry blast or cannon shot—accompanying small earthquakes in the region. Now, a new study published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America offers an explanation for this uniquely noisy seismic event.

    Seismic activity in the area of the Egyptian seaside resort Abu Dabbab may be caused by an active fault that lays below a 10-kilometer thick block of old, now rigid igneous rock. The surface of the block slides along the active parts of the fault, lubricated by fluids from the Red Sea that have penetrated the crust, according to Sami El Khrepy of King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and colleagues.
    The researchers think this large and rigid block of igneous crust acts as a sort of broadcaster, allowing the full sounds of seismic movement to rise through the rock with little weakening of the acoustic signal. The high-frequency sounds of earthquakes can then be heard by humans at the surface.

    Earlier studies had suggested that the Abu Dabbab earthquakes were caused by magma rising through the crust, but the new report “found that a volcanic origin of the seismicity is unlikely, and the area is not expected to be subjected to volcanic hazard,” said El Khrepy.

    Earthquake swarms are frequent in this area of the northern Red Sea near Abu Dabbab, but most of the earthquakes are weak, ranging in magnitude from 0.3 to 3.5. The largest well-documented earthquakes, measuring magnitude 6.1 and magnitude 5.1, occurred in 1955 and 1984, respectively.

    El Khrepy and colleagues decided to take a closer look at the structure of the Abu Dabbab crust, to determine the origin of this seismicity. To peer into the crust, they combined data from local earthquake monitoring with a new set of local and regional earthquake data collected by the National Seismic Network of Egypt (ENSN), which was completed in 2002. They then applied a technique called seismic tomography, which uses data on the speed of seismic waves traveling through different rock types to develop a 3-D map of some of the subsurface geological features in the area.

    “This study is the first detailed look at the seismic tomography in this region of Abu Dabbab’s cannon earthquakes,” said El Khrepy, “It was not possible to do this work without ENSN deployment.”

    The researchers determined that the earthquakes at Abu Dabbab extend in a line from the coast into the Red Sea, “and the seismicity pattern is arc-shaped in depth, confined to the dome-like structure of the rigid igneous body that formed during the Precambrian era” above an active fault, El Khrepy said.

    The strike-slip and thrust movements of the fault may drive water from the Red Sea in between the fault and the surface of the igneous block, allowing the two to slip past each other, the scientists suggest.

    “Based on the new results and also the historical data,” El Khrepy concluded, “we report that the confined seismicity in this zone is of tectonic, and not volcanic, origin.”

    I. Koulakov, S. El Khrepy, N. Al-Arifi, P. Kuznetsov, E. Kasatkina. Structural cause of a missed eruption in the Harrat Lunayyir basaltic field (Saudi Arabia) in 2009. Geology, 2015; 43 (5): 395 DOI: 10.1130/G36271.1

    Note : The above story is based on materials provided by Seismological Society of America.

  47. On June 19, 2015 at 5:57 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Thanks for sharing that, Robin!

  48. On December 9, 2015 at 10:58 pm Sarah wrote:

    Drew from morehead city!! My husband and I have also be hearing these booms… I recorded several today… Thought it might be construction from the new bridge but the times and days it happens doesn’t seem to be on par with that. So bizarre and seem to be quite frequent as of late. You been hearing them too?

  49. On April 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm A J Irving wrote:

    I was told by someone that there is Magma (Lava) under Boiling Spring Lakes that heats up the lakes and causes them to boil. Also, it is caused by an underground volcano in that area that made a huge chunk of the earth rise up and then fall back down and shifting. Therefore cracking the earth from up that way along Cape Fear River and up inland along rivers and all the way down to the Charleston area. Supposedly this causes the earth to shift back and forth and when it rubs together, it causes the sonic booms. This person said that one day this whole chunk of earth is going to crack open and fall in the sea. Supposedly this is a very dangerous place to live. Worse then out West in California where the big earth quakes happen. I asked him if that was the case why didn’t anyone tell us. He said the scientist did not want to let anyone know ???? Makes sense but is it true.

  50. On February 27, 2017 at 10:13 am Rich Price wrote:

    Just had two Seneca Booms, that shook the house about 20 minutes ago. They were about 10 minutes apart. I’m located in St James Plantation, Southport, NC.

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