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Strange Sounds: 'Frost Quakes'

A Little Q & A of the Strange Sounds Heard Around the World!

Glacier in Neko Harbor, Antarctica

What is that strange sound outside?

During the summer of 2009, myself and an old friend heard strange sounds at night in Niagara Falls, NY. At the time I was living in a small trailer park, with my two sons, practically across the street from the Niagara Falls Air Force Base. While my friend was visiting me, he took an evening walk. When he got back, he asked me to join him outside so I could listen to something. He didn’t say why but told me that I just had to hear what he was hearing. I stepped out, into the dark street with him, and we could hear a strange hum that was echoing all around. It sounded like electricity humming through strings of an electric guitar. It was off in the distance... somewhere from the north, I surmised. We stood there for a bit, looking up at the sky, wondering WTH?! The strange sound that night lasted for hours! There had been reports to the Niagara County Sheriff Department and had been heard a half hour away in Lockport. AND also made our two local newspapers’ front page the next day, but no source of the strange noise was found. 

Strange sounds have been reported since the 1930s when they were heard by an expedition team from France. The documented sounds the scientists heard, while they were setting up on the East Greenland Coast, resembled a foghorn. For almost 100 years, reports of this strange phenomenon have come in from everywhere. Beginning with a video of these strange sounds from Belarus, there’s been a viral video documentation growing on the internet. A supportive website for strange sounds goes back to 2008. The mysterious sounds heard on the Belarus video are supposed to sound like metal grinding on metal. I think it sounds like a foghorn, as the scientific team in Greenland reported. You can view similar videos uploaded by news stations, civilians, and tourists on YouTube. They range from a metallic sound, a booming sound, and a long, low blow on a trumpet, to sounding like a string quartet out of tune.

Since my experience, I did some research on the mysterious auditory phenomenon. Among the reports I found on the internet, videos have been uploaded from Kiev, Ukraine in 2011, Edmonton/2012, and Texas/2015 just to name a few of the hundreds of locations where strange sounds have been documented. Some have been proven fakes. It’s not that difficult to make a home video and then add the soundtrack resembling Close Encounters of the Third Kind, right? Many more of the viral videos are genuine. One of the international viral videos included a taping during a newscast in Japan. The sounds stopped the reporters, as they speculate on camera. Here’s a video from Canada in 2013. Locally, some older reports have been found. For instance, beginning in the 1800’s in the Catskill Mountains of New York, they have been documented and known as “Seneca Guns.”

The reports and recordings of these strange sounds have greatly increased over the last 10 years, only due to our technological advances in communication. Geophysicists have said the sound is our jet stream, our tectonic plates shifting, and the release of subterranean pressure. I thought that’s what an Earthquake was? They have also been diagnosed as electro-magnetic waves from the Aurora Borealis. The only problem I have with that is not everyone is supposed to be able to hear those. 

Finally, I found something more "down-to-Earth," pardon the pun! Meteorologists in Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri said they are “Frost Quakes.” This is when water saturates the ground and quickly freezes. Water expands when it freezes. This reaction is what causes the things water seeps into, to suddenly crack open… or the ground to split. The energy gives off a sound resembling an earthquake. 

This is a 'Frost Quake'.

The "Frost Quake" explanation was also applied to two mysterious booms that were heard on the same day: During November 30, 2014, reports came in from Lockport, NY. Then, across the Atlantic Ocean and over 3,000 miles away in London, England, there were reports of a mysterious booming that echoed on the horizon.  

Again, why do Frost Quakes happen?

Going deeper into this explanation, you’ll understand why I find the "Frost Quake" so obvious. It’s like the sounds an ice cube makes as it melts after you place it in a beverage. Only Frost Quakes are on a much bigger scale due to the size of the ice cube, and the size of the container holding it and the liquid. We’ve had these frozen lands loaded with tons of ice, hanging around for eons. They are in the darkest, coldest, places on our Earth that receive little warmth from our Sun. Meet our North and South Poles! Long ago, our northern lands had icy bridges that stretched across the Bering Strait. Our ancestors used these ice bridges to cross from Russia into Alaska. From there, they spread south into the lands of the Americas. Now that all that snow is melting (it only took thousands of years!) the shores of Alaska are exposed. With the ice gone, artifacts and human remains found attest to their travels. They even found the remains of 13,000-year-old, perfect footprints! I read that our north pole, capped with ice, has NO land under it! It’s 10-15 miles of thick ice cap. A submarine, Nautilus, once dove under it on its way from Alaska to Greenland. If, or when, that completely melts, there will be just ocean with possibly a few sandbars scattered around. Our warming is what creates icebergs that float into warmer waters of the Oceans, where they eventually melt completely. This means more moisture in our atmosphere, heavier rainfall, more melting and freezing... I think you get my idea here! Now, anyone else agree with the "Frost Quake" explanation?

How does the sound of a Frost Quake travel?

Okay, but considering the recent break, or calving, of an iceberg the size of Delaware off Antarctica’s Coast, I think we need to rethink how sound works. Sound bounces. Since we have been keeping an eye on that crack in the Antarctic shelf for quite a few years, I think the cracking is a "Frost Quake" alright. But it’s made a different way than the meteorologists have explained. These sounds of the glacier breaking have been bouncing around in our atmosphere since we noticed the calving had begun. The sound waves bounce first off the ice, into the water, where it bounces off the seafloor, traveling to land masses far north of the South Polar Region. As far north as England and Canada, even.

We all learned from 5th Grade Science that sound creates vibrations in the Earth. This, in turn, makes up seismic energy. We have had an uptick in Tsunami activity, which is caused by seismic activity from the ocean floor. Earthquakes and Volcanic activity create more seismic activity, as our tectonic plates shift while they move around. The recent earthquakes in the most unlikely of places, such as in the middle of The Great Lakes, is proof of this. Then there’s the giant rift that heavy rainfall recently exposed in Africa. The rare rainfall washed away volcanic ash that had filled the rift in millions of years ago. Scientists predict that 50 million years from now, this rift will be separating one side of the continent from the other.

The atmospheric changes from Hawaii’s recent Kilauea Volcano activity, which created the islands to begin with, is also more seismic activity. When hot volcanic magma meets water, it creates steam explosions. The tiny droplets travel in the air. In higher altitudes of our atmosphere, they get cold. Then it falls to the surface again. The winds in our atmosphere, called the "Jet Stream," keep oxygen and weather moving around the Earth’s surface, kind of like a built-in fan. We also face the threat of other sleeping volcanoes erupting, one in Yellowstone National Park

Should we be worried about Frost Quakes?

The melting of both our Polar Caps brings more than just a threat of rising water levels. As it melts, it releases trapped pockets of ancient air, (see "Bergys Seltzer" in paragraph below) but also ancient organisms. Ever read about the water parasites in the Amazon Jungle? They will climb into your warm nether-regions while you wade through piranha-infested waters. Scientists only think they have to worry about new forms of bubonic plague! Only until the past couple hundred years did we really start to see changes in these frozen conditions.

We've always known that glaciers melt and break off, turning into much smaller icebergs. As these tiny pockets of air and organisms get released, this causes pressure changes within the icebergs that make another sound. It's not as loud as a Frost Quake, but can you guess what it is? There’s a name for it because it sounds like seltzer. Take a listen to these tiny icebergs making the pops that have been called "Bergy Seltzer." As these icebergs float, they sometimes refreeze on their journey. After a while, they might begin to build up again. It’s all an endless cycle on Earth!

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