Three days of mysterious booming noises in Clintonville have caused concern and sent government officials scrambling for an explanation.
Though the sounds remain a mystery, the City of Clintonville held a public meeting Wednesday night, March 21, to share what they do know and offer citizens an opportunity to ask questions. A crowd of over 350 concerned residents and members of the media packed into the Clintonville High School auditorium to learn more about the strange sounds.
Mayor Judy Magee opened the meeting by thanking everyone for their patience and concern in this matter. She then turned things over to City Administrator Lisa Kuss.
“We have been flooded with information from around the world regarding this strange phenomenon,” Kuss said. “We are investigating feasible ideas with the help of all of our city staff, as well as county, state and federal officials.
“Beginning at around 1:45 a.m. Monday, March 19, there was a high volume of calls to the police department regarding strange booming noises,” Kuss explained. “Those sounds have continued over the past 3 days, and we have received over 600 calls regarding various incidents. We have a list of exhausted possibilities, and we have ruled out many of the main concerns such as problems with the gas or water utilities.
“The final piece we are looking at is geological and earthly possibilities,” Kuss said. “The events don’t nicely fit, but there is a strong possibility that there is a natural phenomenon taking place underground. We believe it is happening because of the weather.”
Kuss stated that if geologic events are to blame, they are most likely occurring within 100 feet of the surface. Some possible explanations include granite shifting or other geologic activity.
“There are other events similar to this that have taken place around the country,” Kuss added. “However, most of those have been small and non-repetitive, unlike ours.”
Kuss said the city is in the process of having four seismology devices shipped in and installed at various locations around the city to try to determine a pattern of the events, an epicenter, and the depth of the activity. She also cautioned that there is no guarantee that the machines will provide any useful data.
“The data-if any is collected-will be analyzed by engineers and other professionals in hopes of finding the cause to these noises,” Kuss said. “However, it is possible that we will never have any definitive answers.”
The meeting was opened up for questions from the citizenry, and many came forward to express concern and seek further clarification on the strange events and what is causing them.
“Have we ruled out an old armory or munitions storage somewhere under the city?” asked Steve Shelton.
“We have heard reports that there was a World War Two munitions deposit in this area, but the Department of Military Affairs says that to the best of their knowledge, there is no such stockpile anywhere in or near Clintonville.”
Other residents noted that their tap water had been ice cold immediately upon turning on the faucet, as opposed to the usual tepid water that first comes out of the spout when the water is turned on. Some postulated that there is an underground lake or river that is causing the cold water and the disturbing noises.
“We have looked at our water pumps and the water pressure,” said Kuss. “The colder water could just be due to the fact that our water system runs very deep. It shouldn’t be related to the booming noises. We also have a special system that monitors changes in pressure and water temperature, and that has not detected anything unusual.”
Others were concerned about the possibility of sinkholes.
“There is sand and gravel below the surface of our city, but at about 100 feet below the surface, there is granite,” said Kuss. “Usually, granite is not as susceptible to underground rivers or sinkholes. Also, the pattern of calls reporting incidents has spread out over the last three days; usually sinkholes don’t expand, but are concentrated to a specific area.”
A number of other possibilities were discussed, but Kuss explained that the city had ruled out nearly all of them, leaving just a geologic activity as a possible cause. As the conversation continued, many residents just wanted to know what to do to protect themselves.
“We would like residents to continue to report what they experience personally,” Kuss said. “Whether you hear, feel or see something, please report it to the police department non-emergency number (715-823-3117). If there is an emergency, we will notify you by going door-to-door and posting alerts with local media outlets. At this time, we don’t feel an evacuation is necessary, but if you feel safer going somewhere else, we encourage you to do whatever you feel is necessary to be comfortable.”
The city is holding another public meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the Clintonville High School auditorium to further discuss the ongoing situation.