Although there is some dispute, the mystery of the Clintonville, Wis. booming noises may have been solved. Last week, the United States Geological Survey said a 1.5-magnitute earthquake struck the small Wisconsin town of 4,600 people only about 40 miles west of Green Bay.
Beginning around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Clintonville residents have been hearing loud booming sounds and feeling the ground shake. Clintonville police started receiving reports about the incident and for the past week, officials have been working to find out what is causing the sounds.
Residents did not know what to make of it.
My husband thought it was cool, but I don't think so, said Jolene Van Beek, who awoke Sunday to a loud boom that shook her house, reported the Christian Science Monitor. This is not a joke I don't know what it is, but I just want it to stop.
Clintonville City Administrator Lisa Kuss told her community on Thursday night that the mystery is solved, reported the Associated Press. She told residents that the representatives from the USGS described the booming incidents as a series of several earthquakes in short amount of time.
In other places in the United States, a 1.5 earthquake would not be felt, she said. But the type of rock Wisconsin has transmits seismic energy very well.
The USGS said that although earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0 or less are usually not felt and are only recorded on seismographs, it is possible that a series of small earthquakes was the cause.
But not all scientists and geologists are completely convinced and were not so quick to take Kuss's side.
To be honest, I'm skeptical that there'd be a sound report associated with such a small earthquake, but it's possible, said Geophysicist Paul Caruso, according to the AP.
Since the noises began, city officials have been working to investigate the cause. Kuss reportedly met with civil engineers and geologists on Tuesday morning. Officials checked the water system to see if there are any problems, but have come up empty. Officials are checked gas lines, sewers and water pressure systems, but were unable to find a source of the loud noises.
Authorities even set up audio and video equipment overnight. However, they did not find any evidence of shaking or booming on Wednesday night.
This is an issue, said resident Sharaon Binger at the public meeting, demanding answers from officials, according to the Christian Science Monitor. There is something else going on.
The booms have been localized to a small section of the north end of Clintonville, just east of Main Street, reported the New York Times.
Microearthquakes in general happen all the time, all over the world, but we've never had one specifically detected in Wisconsin, especially a whole series of them like what we have been seeing going on Clintonville, said Harold J. Tobin, a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to the New York Times.
But people haven't necessarily looked very hard for them, he added. It's only because of the publicity that seismologists went looking for such a small needle in a haystack.
Residents in the community had been coming up with their own theories while investigators struggled to come up with answers.
I think somebody is drilling holes and planting dynamite, said Gary Nielson, 60, according to the New York Times. Other theories had included meth labs, underground rivers, sinkholes and even conspiracies by various organizations to drive down home prices.
Whatever the cause is, the sounds appear to be getting less intense as days go by. But residents are still concerned.
There's something radically wrong with this earth, said Verda Schultz, 47, of Clintonville.