USGS says 1.5 earthquake hit town on Tuesday, but reports of booms came in over 24 hours beforehand
City officials claim the mystery of the Clintonville booms is solved with the US Geological Survey’s announcement that the town experienced a series of mini-earthquakes, but residents remain skeptical and probably with good reason – the 1.5 magnitude earthquake occurred over 24 hours after reports of the booms first started to flood in, noises which were also heard in a town 80 miles away.
The saga which has captured national attention began on Sunday night, when police received a deluge of reports about strange booming noises that were described as sounding like underground fireworks, thunder, or someone slamming a heavy door.
For the subsequent four nights the booms continued to be reported, albeit to a lesser extent, prompting a town hall meeting and a promise by local officials to find the cause of the strange noises.
The USGS subsequently announced that Clintonville had been hit by a 1.5 magnitude mini-earthquake on Tuesday at 12:15 a.m, in addition to a subsequent swarm of small earthquakes. The earthquake was not initially detected by the USGS and was only discovered after reports of mysterious booms in Clintonville had attracted national media coverage.
“Clintonville City Administrator Lisa Kuss told the community Thursday “the mystery is solved.” She says the rumbling can be explained by the micro earthquake that struck earlier this week,” reports Fox 11.
However, residents first heard the strange booms on Sunday night, over 24 hours before the first 1.5 earthquake struck.
In addition, the fact that the booms were also experienced 80 miles away by residents of Montello is inconsistent with the mini-quake explanation. Even people relatively close to the epicenter of such a minor earthquake would not feel it in most places, never mind anyone located over 120 kilometers away.
The fact that residents of Clintonville felt the booms whereas people in California experience similar quakes on a routine basis without feeling them at all was addressed by USGS physicist Paul Caruso, who said that “the rock in Wisconsin is very old and well consolidated.”
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
However, Caruso also stated that “the 1.5 magnitude quake would have likely only been felt within a few blocks around its epicenter,” which fails to explain why people 80 miles away in Montello also reported hearing the booms.
Caruso added that it was the smallest earthquake the USGS had ever recorded which anyone actually felt.
Some residents remain unconvinced by the mini-quake explanation and suspect a cover-up. City officials have said that seismic technology which would have helped locate the epicenter and cause of the booms will now likely not be used.
“This doesn’t happen here, something’s wrong and something’s amiss,” said Cheryl Binger, one of the several residents who isn’t buying the mini-quake theory, according to Fox 11.
Indeed, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reports that residents have been feeling the booms for months, noting that, “Several residents questioned the solution. After all, earlier that week they were told earthquakes had been ruled out as a potential cause of the sounds that shook them awake for several nights.”
The report also quotes University of Wisconsin-Madison geophysics professor Clifford Thurber, who casts doubt on the USGS’ explanation.
“If it turns out it’s coming from a mile or two deep, yeah, it’s small earthquakes,” Thurber said. But if the cause is determined to be only about 100 feet deep, then something else is happening, he said,” adding that more research needs to be conducted.
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