River Pines, CA Change


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Matthew Hedger
08/08/2014 10:56 AM

A wide range of people across an even wider range of the Sierra Nevada have banded together in social media groups to investigate noises they are experiencing on a semi-regular basis, and they’re referring to them as the “Mother Lode Mystery Booms.”

A group on Facebook by the same name has 767 members this week, from Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Tuolumne and Stanislaus counties and beyond, all seeking answers to the same question: What the heck is that noise?

Another group, El Dorado Mysterious Events, has 1,243 members, many of whom are also currently devoting a lot of time and effort in an attempt to solve the mystery.

Some of the booms seem to occur at or near the same time almost every single day, at around 11:30 a.m. Others are reported at random times, both day and night. Some say they occur only Monday through Friday, and not on the weekend, leading them to postulate the noises are coming from rock quarries, or mining activities. But they also are being reported at random times on random days, and there seems to be no clear pattern.

Kristina Heller, from Pioneer, posted on August 4 that one of her customers attributes the booms to military exercises. “One of my older guys that comes into my work every single morning says it’s bombing practice out in (the) Nevada area,” said Heller.

But not all of the booms being reported are occurring at the same time, and many residents say

they’re getting louder, more intense and more random as time goes by.

Cindy Arce, in Calaveras County, said she’s hearing booms Monday through Friday. “Only five days a week here, in Copperopolis,” she reported Aug. 3. “There is no booming Saturdays and Sundays. So weird that I hear them here in Saddle Creek Golf Course, and friends hear them in Diamond XX, yet some people a mile down the road have never heard them.”

One theory maintains the prolonged drought is to blame, causing granite boulders to crack with a thunderous noise. An earthen dam that cracked in Twain Harte this week, in Tuolumne County, is now being examined — unofficially at least — to see if the damage has any relation to the booms.

One person who witnessed and heard the cracking in the dam reported a “pop” sound, “like a .22” that was followed by a very large explosion, “like a stick of dynamite or something.”

Television media from Sacramento made their way over to Twain Harte and videotaped one witness who said he could hear the rock cracking underfoot as a fissure appeared in the face of the dam.

“Sort of like when you’re trying to get ice out of an ice tray,” he told one reporter.

Geologists at the scene said there was a visible crack in a huge boulder — locally referred to as “The Rock,” which is connected to the dam.

But not all of the theories being promulgated offer such a mundane explanation.

Kathy Derby, a Stockton resident, thinks the booms are the result of secret government projects.

“I am thinking the Gov. is building underground bunkers,” she posted recently. “…have you noticed what looks like air vent pipes coming up out of the ground around the Sutter Creek bypass? They are capped, but they are there.”

Several law enforcement organizations in the region report receiving regular reports regarding the booms, but for the most part, they are just as baffled as everybody else.

The Amador County Sheriff’s Office said their investigation of multiple reports of the booming sounds pointed to old military ordnance being destroyed at the Hawthorne Army Depot, in Nevada, which “demilitarizes and disposes of unserviceable, obsolete and surplus munitions.”

Sometimes, the booms are so violent, people report pictures being knocked off the wall, whole houses being shaken, air being sucked out of the house causing curtains to move and family pets to run for cover.

“Whoa, they’re loud today in Wallace,” posted Crystal Goldberg on July 22. “Making the house shake a little.”

“I hear mystery booms all the time in Sutter Creek,” reported Lori Teresi-King. “I’ve thought it was thunder? Maybe not?”

Evie Tiquet Ghormley said she heard five sets of booms, along with a single one Aug. 1. “Booms started about 11:47 (a.m.) here in Drytown,” she said. “They were faint today. First set was three booms, next two sets were two booms, and one single boom at the end. All from the east.”

Ghormley’s proximity to a nearby modern gold mine operation could be one explanation for the noises, but officials at the Sutter Gold Mining Company say activities at the Lincoln Project mine are on hold, the miners have been temporarily laid off, and there are no blasting operations underway currently as the company reorganizes its finances.

Kate Garrahan said she also experienced booms in Valley Springs, Aug. 1, at around the same time as Ghormley.

“Ten total here today, softer with each boom as they seemed to move off to the east. All else was still outside, my birds (chickens, ducks and goose) were all just standing there not moving around,” she said.

Alex Sharp also heard booms from his vantage point on Meadow Drive in Buckhorn Aug. 1.

“Sounds like it is coming from the Moke River Canyon,” he reported. “Double booms here today.”

One theory holds that the booms are being created by supersonic aircraft flying over the Sierra Nevada from Nellis or Fallon Air Force Bases in Nevada.

“The closely spaced double booms lend credibility to this theory,” posted Ken Glissman. “I heard them whenever the shuttle was landing in S. Cal when I lived there.”

“The only thing that sucks about this theory is that the booms have been heard for over a hundred years!!,” replied Dwayne Dodson. “Way before supersonic flight…”

Indeed, the phenomenon, dubbed “brontides” has been noted since the days of Lewis and Clark.

Taken from the Greek words, “bremein” meaning roar, and “bromos” — loud noise. Brontides was included in the 1971 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, with the definition: “a low muffled sound like distant thunder heard in certain seismic regions especially along seacoasts and over lakes and thought to be caused by feeble earth tremors.”

Joseph Mussulman, writing about notes made of brontides during the Lewis and Clark expedition, said, “The implication is that when the energy of the subterranean stretching and compression reaches the surface, it sets the air above in motion, producing a short, low sound.”

Alarmingly, as far back as April 1979, none other than Science Magazine, a well-respected forum for original scientific research, said, “Episodes of explosive noises of natural origin, or brontides, have been well documented, often in association with seismic activity and in a few cases, as precursors to major earthquakes.

“Ground-to-air acoustic transmission from shallow earthquakes can account for many of these episodes, but not for all, and other causes, such as the sudden eruption of gas from high-pressure sources in the ground may at times have been responsible.”

The article goes on to say that, at least in 1978 and 1979, an increase in the frequency of “artificial explosive noises” and “sonic booms” had made it harder to discern between brontides and man-made explosions.

“Confusion with distant thunder or artillery at times of anomalous sound propagation complicates the analysis,” wrote the authors of the article, Thomas Gold and Steven Soter.

And the phenomenon is not unique to this region, or even the Sierra Nevada.

In 1977 and 1978, mysterious booms throughout the East Coast scared so many people that President Jimmy Carter got involved, reports Whet Moser, in Chicago Magazine.

“The military blamed supersonic aircraft, and in the United States, the booms stopped,” he wrote. “But they continued in Canada — one, in Bell Island off Newfoundland, damaged houses and killed chickens.” The theory? According to a CBC documentary, parts of which can be found on YouTube: Super Lightning!

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, and other places in the Midwest, the booms are called “mistpouffers.” and some there attribute them to sounds made by ice cracking. On the island of Haiti, another active seismic region, the booms are known as “gouffre.”

In 1850, James Fenimore Cooper published “The Lake Gun,” in which he writes, “The ‘Lake Gun’ is a mystery. It is a sound resembling the explosion of a heavy piece of artillery, that can be accounted for by none of the known laws of nature. The report is deep, hollow, distant, and imposing. The lake seems to be speaking to the surrounding hills, which send back the echoes of its voice in accurate reply. No satisfactory theory has ever been broached to explain these noises. Conjectures have been hazarded about chasms, and the escape of compressed air by the sudden admission of water; but all this is talking at random, and has probably no foundation in truth. The most that can be said is, that such sounds are heard, though at long intervals, and that no one as yet has succeeded in ascertaining their cause.”

Fracking, ultra-secret military aircraft, magnetic shifts in the earth’s crust, old military munitions being destroyed, bird-deterent machines, fireworks factories, blasting related to mining, roadbuilding, tunneling, quarry or logging operations, UFO’s, the list of possible causes — rational and irrational, probable and improbable — goes on and on.

For now, at least, it seems the debate will continue, and the reports will continue to accumulate, as they have for decades.

There is a little ditty called the “Song of the Seismologist,” that reads, “The tremors come, the tremors go. They love the wintry weather with periods fast and periods slow, perplexing altogether. But what care I, the seismist bold, — I fear no complications. Each novel fact I easily fold, within my cooked equations.”

The Mother Lode Mystery Booms group on Facebook is a public forum and is accepting new members. If you have experienced “booms” and would like to report them, they have created a form you can use to note your experiences as they continue to examine the phenomenon, with an eye to eventually create a map and list of locations, times and frequencies.

Copyright © 2016 Amador Ledger Dispatch
Melissa Nyc
08/11/2014 7:56 PM
https://www.facebook.com/groups/195458960620334/?fref=nf El Dorado Mysterious Events will let you in too. Nice well-rounded article! :)
Kathleen O'Meara
08/12/2014 4:28 PM
8/12/14 This morning, Pioneer (between 26 & 88) at 1130am. AGAIN
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