What’s shaking the house? Earthquake information specialist weighs in on boom

Activity registered from 9 p.m. to about 11 p.m. on the University of Utah seismograph at the Little Creek seismic station, Utah, Dec. 4, 2014 | Image courtesy of the U of U Seismograph Stations, St. George News

SOUTHERN UTAH — Following a succession of shakes, rattles and booms reported by residents throughout Washington County, a boom that was heard and felt Thursday evening has been reported as the loudest yet.

The latest boom occurred between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday, rattling the homes of many residents.

Earthquake Information Specialist Mark Hale, out of the University of Utah Seismograph Station, said the boom was definitely not an earthquake.

“The waves at that time were traveling at non-seismic speeds,” Hale said.

The elliptical shape of the sound, recorded at approximately 10:40 p.m. on the seismograph located at the Little Creek seismic station, most likely came from the air, Hale said. Seismic waves move through the earth between 5-11 kilometers per second, and the speed of this particular recording was traveling approximately 300 meters per second, he said.

By definition, seismic waves are energy that travel through the Earth’s layers, which can radiate from earthquakes, blasting or volcanoes. Other waves that are less energetic are referred to as ambient vibrations.

Sometimes, sonic booms from airplanes hit the ground more violently,” Hale said. “It could be the angle the plane is flying. Too many factors to know. If the inversion is thick in the Salt Lake valley, the sonic booms are felt much stronger.”

Sonic booms that pulse from aircraft have the potential of shaking houses, especially houses that have long continuous roof lines or wooden structures, Hale said.

Read more about sonic booms here: Southern Utah experiences boom, boom, booms


As far as other booms heard or felt in the area recently, Washington County Landfill Manager Neil Schwendiman said there was blasting at the landfill for expansion at approximately 3 p.m. on Nov. 24 .

“It would have sounded like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom for about 10 seconds,” Schwendiman said. “The last time we be blasted was about three or four years ago. We try not to do it every year.”

The Washington County Landfill does not expect to blast again until 2019, he said.

According to the U of U Seismograph Station’s website:

When an earthquake occurs, the seismogram will show ground motions that typically last from several tens of seconds to many minutes depending on the size of the earthquake and the sensitivity of the seismograph. The height of the recorded waves on the seismogram (wave amplitude) is a greatly magnified representation of the actual ground motion. The magnification is 50,000 times or more depending on the site. A recording of an earthquake has recognizable characteristics. Typically, one can recognize the arrival of different wave types: P (the fastest traveling waves), S (shear waves), and Surface waves.

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31 Comments

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    it’s the military testing their newfangled aircraft launched rockets and what not. They wanna make some craters out in the nevada desert before they take them over to Syria to drop them on Arabs. Would be verging on mental retardation to think they are sonic booms or anything of the sort…

  • Cara December 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I’m glad the news is covering this, but I wish they’d discovered something conclusive. “This wasn’t an earthquake” doesn’t exactly give me a lot of information about whatever physically shook my house.

  • Wilbur December 5, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Air Force hypersonic Aurora aircraft chasing Area 51 laggard UFO’s, no doubt. Seriously, I’ve seen them.

  • Kevin Bacon December 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Well, we know that it is definitely not a big dance party! I agree with everyone, who thinks the sounds are from beneath the ground…..

    • Footloose December 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Well it’s probably coming from a massive underground dance party

      • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

        I think this mystery just got solved

      • Kevin Bacon December 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm

        Bert, they are under the ground!!! (1990 Tremors) Kevin Bacon voice……

  • Zonkerb December 5, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    What shook your house was the shock wave from an exploding star in the. corthenc galaxy which is something Like 125 light years from earth and this theory is just as solid as any other theory out there

  • that guy December 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Again with the typical double talk that says nothing. Everyone knows that is not sonic booms. At least not the type made by any Known / Unclassified/ aircraft. in use today. A little look in the past will uncover the fact. That after the short lived Concord supper sonic booms upset man Americans. A law was passed that no aircrat may make sonic booms over land in America. So stop it all ready quit trying to pull the wool over our eyes! Now if it is coming from the air which many believe, show us the plane or drop this sonic boom theory.
    WE WANT THE TRUTH
    So I need to ask what is HARP?
    What does it do?
    Is it a weapon?
    Is it the true cause of the boom boom boomings?

    • Bender December 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Which do you recommend THAT GUY: tin foil hat or aluminum foil hat?

      • that guy December 6, 2014 at 1:51 am

        I would tell you to take a look at your own, but it is oblivious you removed it a long long time ago. Along with Koolaid and his gang of hate spewing trolls.

  • sagemoon December 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I’m glad to see local media covering this. I like having one source of the booms eliminated. The mystery continues…

    My conspiracy theory is still bombing in the desert.

  • RHiN0X December 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Its the stealth Fighter replacements flying out of Nellis… and NO its NOT the F22

  • Bender December 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    300 m/s = 670 mph, the speed of sound.

  • modigliani December 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    J. Smith just dropped a big stack of Golden Plates.

  • Throckmorton December 5, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Military was popping ordnance in the desert west of St. George. Friend of mine that is a contractor told me it was on the schedule. Might have been running supersonics, too. Law or not, some pilot might punch through the barrier for giggles.

    • Rob December 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

      we get the same thing from MCAS Pendleton and 29 Palms depends on wind direction, temp, humidity as to how loud and hard the blasts hit us. every thursday is live ammo day and we’re 35 miles away. then there’s those pilots that bust the no fly zone and light em up doing low altitude passes.

  • Mary December 6, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I have heard at least 3-4 booms and shuddering at my house in the last month and have wondered what it was. A little disconcerting for sure.

  • Rachel December 6, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Note to the author: I recommend that you call Nellis Airforce Base, tell them you are media, and ask them if they are doing some testing or exercises out on the range. They usually will confirm if they are, but won’t go into detail.

  • Yrhule Contaminated December 6, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Don’t worry what’s shaking your house if your are originally from souther utah or a movie in it mattereth not. For we all are contaminated with the radioactive waiste that is in the dirt, dust, wind, air and water. The has been thousands of times more radiation dumped on So. Utah that on Japan. Look it up study it quit worrying about foreign super powers nuclear weapons.for as of today my friends you’ve all ready been nuked. Marry Christmas.

    • ray charles December 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Where on the map is Souther Utah? Oh yeah the mind is a terrible thing to WASTE…..I have’nt met anyone from southern utah, who has had there flesh burnt off due to radiation! OH! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

      • ray charles December 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm

        That on Japan. LOL!!!! Even I can see that you need to do some more studying and looking up……..sheeeesh!

    • Koolaid December 7, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Wow! Really? Maybe it’s time to quit nuking your head in your microwave oven.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

    the booming is the sound of Obama as he comes to take all the guns. Better find a good hiding place 🙂

  • Koolaid December 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I think the booming noise is from a battle between the Lamanites and Nephites, but you won’t be able to find any evidence of it, just only hear the sounds of explosions. This great battle will be written about someday in the distant future.

  • Todd December 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    The boom, boom, boom I herd was originating from the west of Santa Clara.
    Not from the east where the land fill is from my location.

    Is there any road work being done on the old Highway? Or foundations being excavated in to lava rock. Which doesn’t make any sense those blasts are done during day light hours.

  • pinklaw26 March 7, 2015 at 12:13 am

    The booms and rattling my house, windows, doors, dogs, and my family is still continuing. It is causing cracks between my walls and ceiling. Is this happening to anybody else? My home owners insurance doesn’t pay for any of what is described in the article or others’ guesses to what the shake/booms are coming from. The citizens will have to eventually be told so we know who will be paying for their damage. I’m in Cedar and it is happening throughout the day and night. Last one was today, March 6th at 11:40pm.

  • pinklaw26 March 11, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Shake again – 3/11/15 @ 11:16 pm and 11:24 pm. The later time was heavier. Makes my dogs bark, wakes everyone up. Do you think the activity can be performed during the day when its not quiet. My windows sound like they’re breaking.

  • soutah March 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Pinklaw, I have been all over google trying to find any mention of what we have been feeling here in CC. I signed up just to respond to you! We felt the big one you mentioned in early March, thought it was an earthquake. Last night the two 10 minutes apart, that second one made me think our windows were going to break. I agree, why do this at night when ppl are sleeping. Takes me **** long enough to get my toddlers to sleep!

  • sagemoon March 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    This week I’ve heard it in the middle of the day and late at night.

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