Official: Mystery Booms Caused By Minor Quake

An official for an eastern Wisconsin city plagued this week by a series of unexplained booming sounds said the mystery can be attributed to a small, early-morning earthquake.

Clintonville City Administrator Lisa Kuss told the community Thursday, “The mystery is solved.”

She said the rumbling can be explained by a 1.5 magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday and was confirmed by federal geologists Thursday.

She said representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey described the cause as a swarm of several small earthquakes in a very short time.

While USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told the Associated Press that loud booming noises have been known to accompany earthquakes, he said he’s skeptical that such a small earthquake would produce the loud booms that shook many residents awake.

Just 80 miles south of Clintonville, the city of Montello is dealing with its own case of underground rumblings. Residents felt an underground “boom” early Tuesday evening, and it caught the attention of many residents.

“There’s no doubt right now that it’s the talk of the town,” Montello Police Chief Rick Olson said. “Several citizens had reported (it) at ground level, or even at a lower level.”

Residents described the sound as some sort of explosion which seemed to be coming from underground.

“It was almost like somebody ran into my house — like a car or something,” resident Mary Kramp said.

City officials said they’ve checked everything — from utilities to nearby construction work. They’re even considering the large granite deposits in the area that might have come loose underground. And since sonic booms from aircraft are common in the area, that was looked into as well.

“It was much different than the sonic booms,” Olson said. “This one they said was much different. They said it was way down in the ground.”

But at least one resident is convinced it’s a sonic boom, saying he hears them all the time and the sound on Tuesday was identical.

So far, no one can come up with a solid explanation. But with what’s been happening in Clintonville, everyone has their theories.

“Oh yeah, the end is near. Aliens are coming!” joked high school student Jake Hoevel.

“It’s a warm spring, and it’s something random maybe tied to the warm weather,” resident Julie Dahlke said.

Montello police said they have reached out to experts at the University of Wisconsin to see if they can figure out what might be happening.

Olson said residents really aren’t too concerned but rather are mostly just curious about the noises. He said police will continue to search for possible explanations.