As frigid conditions moved their way into the Twin Tiers this week, reports of “loud booms” were reported from residents. Many residents reported being awakened by sounds of booms and cracks.
These loud booms aren’t explosions or earthquakes, they are a natural phenomenon formally known as “cryoseism”, also known as “ice quakes” or “frost quakes”.
These events are a seismic event that may be caused by a sudden cracking action in frozen soil or rocks, that are saturated with water.
This occurs when water drains into the ground, with temperatures above freezing. Rapid cooling can cause water already saturated in the ground to rapidly freeze. The energy produced as the water freezes, causing it to expand, creates a loud crack or boom. Even in some reports, rumbles are felt on land which gives it characteristics of a ‘quake”.
However, don’t be fooled by typical noises in your house as cold conditions can cause water within pipes and on other surfaces to expand and make noise.