They have been heard in several locations around the world, including the banks of the river Ganges, Marwari village in Himachal Pradesh, the East Coast and inland Finger Lakes of the United States, the Magic Valley in South Central Idaho of the United States, Colombia, Southern Canada, as well as areas of the North Sea, Japan, Australia, Italy, Drogheda, Bettystown, Slane, Dundalk, Ireland, Pune, Ambala, The Netherlands, Norway, Bengaluru, Tierra del Fuego Argentina, United Kingdom and recently (11 April 2020) in Jakarta, West Java, Brazil, Uruguay, (23 April 2020) in Tampico, Mexico, on May 11, 2020 in Central Java and on May 21, 2020 in Bandung, West Java.
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Names (according to area) are:
- Bangladesh: Barisal Guns
- France: "bombes de mer", "canons de mer".
- Italy: "brontidi", "marina", "balza", "lagoni", "bomba", "rombo", "boato", "bonnito", "mugghio", "baturlio", "tromba", "rufa".,
- Japan: "uminari" (literally, "cries from the sea")
- Netherlands and Belgium: "mistpoeffers", "zeepoeffers", "zeedoffers", "mistbommen", "gonzen", "balken", "onderaardse geruchten".
- Philippines and Iran: "retumbos"
- United States: "Guns of the Seneca" around Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake, Seneca guns in the Southeast US, and "Moodus noises" in lower Connecticut valley
- Latin America and Spain: "cielomoto"
- elsewhere: "fog guns", "mistpouffers", "waterguns"
They have been reported from an Adriatic island in 1824; Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria in Australia; Belgium; frequently on calm summer days in the Bay of Fundy, Canada; Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland; Scotland; Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick; Cedar Keys, Florida; Franklinville, New York in 1896; and northern Georgia in the United States.
Their sound has been described as being like distant but inordinately loud thunder while no clouds are in the sky large enough to generate lightning. Those familiar with the sound of cannon fire say the sound is nearly identical. The booms occasionally cause shock waves that rattle plates. Early white settlers in North America were told by the native Haudenosaunee Iroquois that the booms were the sound of the Great Spirit continuing his work of shaping the earth.
The terms "mistpouffers" and "Seneca guns" both originate in Seneca Lake, NY, and refer to the rumble of artillery fire. James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans, wrote "The Lake Gun" in 1850, a short story describing the phenomenon heard at Seneca Lake, which seems to have popularized the terms.
Their origin has not been positively identified. They have been explained as:
- Coronal mass ejection CMEs often generate shock waves similar to what happens when an aircraft flies at a speed higher than the speed of sound in Earth's atmosphere (sonic boom). The solar wind's equivalent of a sonic boom can accelerate protons up to millions of miles per minute—as much as 40 percent of the speed of light.
- Meteors entering the atmosphere causing sonic booms.
- Gas escaping from vents in the Earth's surface.
- With lakes, bio gas from decaying vegetation trapped beneath the lake bottoms suddenly bursting forth. This is plausible, since Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake are two large and deep lakes.
- Explosive release of less volatile gases generated as limestone decays in underwater caves.
- Military aircraft (though it cannot explain occurrences before supersonic flight started).
- In some cases, they have been associated with earthquakes. Earthquakes may not hold as a general cause because these sounds are often unaccompanied by seismic activity, other than the vibrations induced by sound.
- In North Carolina, one speculation is that they are the sound of pieces of the continental shelf falling off into the Atlantic abyss. However, the Atlantic abyss is too far away from the east coast, and the Atlantic ridge is the result of very slow-moving tectonics and could not produce such sounds, given how often they occur.
- Underwater caves collapsing, and the air rapidly rising to the surface.
- Possible resonance from solar and/or earth magnetic activity inducing sounds.
- Volcanic eruptions
- Avalanches, either natural or human-made for avalanche control.
- Distant thunder being focused anomalously as it travels through the upper atmosphere.
- Bell Island boom, attributed to a lightning superbolt
- List of meteor air bursts
- List of unexplained sounds
- Electrophonic hearing
- "MILITARY: Navy says it caused mysterious 'skyquake'". U-T San Diego. 2012-06-29.
- JawaPos.com (2020-04-11). "Penjelasan BMKG Terkait Suara Dentuman di Jakarta Dini Hari Tadi". JawaPos.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- JawaPos.com (2020-05-11). "BMKG Pastikan Suara Dentuman di Jawa Tengah Bukan dari Gempa Tektonik". JawaPos.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- JawaPos.com (2020-05-21). "Warga Dengar Dentuman dari Langit, BMKG Sebut Bukan Gempa atau Petir". JawaPos.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2020-05-22.
- T.D. LaTouche, "On the Sounds Known as Barisal Guns", Report (1890-8) of the annual meeting By British Association for the Advancement of Science, Issue 60, pp. 800.
- Eraldo Baldini, "Tenebrosa Romagna", Il Ponte Vecchio, 2014, p. 21.
- William R. Corliss, Earthquakes, Tides, Unidentified Sounds, and related phenomena (The Sourcebook Project, 1983).
- M.G.J.Minnaert, De Natuurkunde van 't Vrije Veld, Deel 2: Geluid, Warmte, Elektriciteit, § 48: Mistpoeffers, bladzijden 63-64.
- Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events. 1899. p. 440.
- "Milkshakes: unusual earthquakes strike Wisconsin". Ars Technica. 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- Coastal Review Online, Seneca Guns: The Booms of Summer, 2012-08-01[permanent dead link]
- Earthquake Booms, Seneca Guns, and Other Sounds, usgs.gov, 2013-10-29
- Dimitar Ouzounov; Sergey Pulinets; Alexey Romanov; Alexander Romanov; Konstantin Tsybulya; Dimitri Davidenko; Menas Kafatos; Patrick Taylor (2011). "Atmosphere-Ionosphere Response to the M9 Tohoku Earthquake Revealed by Joined Satellite and Ground Observations. Preliminary results". arXiv:1105.2841 [physics.geo-ph].
- The Guns of Barisal and Anomalous Sound Propagation