Large Earthquake in Mexico, 20 March 2012. Image Source: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images via Guardian.
Earthquakes are all the more threatening because our high tech tools cannot predict them (see this post on predicting the 'Big One' in California, and this site with a range of upcoming earthquake predictions). Nor can our tools confirm the intuitively evident links between disruptions in geomagnetism and plate tectonics. Mining operations can trigger earthquakes, but there is limited accountability of these industries regarding their activities. We have a wealth of information, but no answers. In the Knowledge-Based Society, mysteries are a source of supreme fear and explanation.
Yesterday, a very large 7.6 earthquake struck southwest Mexico, with the epicentre 200 kilometres from Acapulco. Another large 6.2 earthquake struck Indonesia yesterday. These events fall in line with the Old Wives' Tale that solar storms precede earthquakes. The over-availability of information on geoseismic events on the Web and the recent appearance of earthquakes where few had previously occurred is rattling the Internet. Already, there is a conspiracy theory afoot that the Mexican earthquake was somehow artificially induced or simulated by 'a' government or shadowy organization for unknown purposes. Was it an underground nuclear test? Mining? Fracking? The information circulates, becomes associated with other data, and reshapes reality. The X-Files-type irony of course, is that if there ever was anything to a conspiracy theory like this, no one would believe the conspiracy theorist, except other conspiracy theorists.
Still, there is something strange going on. Verified earthquakes are occurring in non-earthquake zones. The latest weird reports have been filtering out of Clintonville, Wisconsin. Since Sunday 18 March, this small town has been startled by the sound of giant, shaking booms, coming from deep underground (reports: here, here, here and here). There is no known cause, but plenty of online speculation - message board users think this is a private company creating underground prepper bunkers (how far down into the earth does property ownership of land extend, anyway?). The booms are not consistent with earthquake activity. Town authorities have contacted geologists at the University of Wisconsin and a private engineering firm for help.
Video Source: Youtube.
Addendum (22 March 2012): Further booms are being heard coming from underground in Montello, Wisconsin.
Tonight, police in Montello are investigating reports of booming sounds similar to what's been reported in Clintonville this week.
Many of the people making the reports say they hadn't even heard about what was going on in Clintonville until they began researching their own problem.
Patti Lekas said, "No one had an explanation."
In Montello, it's the talk of the town.
Lekas said, "There was a loud boom and all the windows shook. The whole house shook."
A loud rumble around 5-thirty last night immediately triggered calls to the police department.
Montello Police Chief Richard Olson said, "We have a lot of good, reliable sources that reported this pretty much community wide."
Jean Dawidziak's son heard the boom.
She says, "He was out at the farm and said mom there was this big thing, the whole house shook."
Pretty much everyone we talked to in Montello says they either heard and felt this rumble themselves or they know someone who did. One person even described it like a really bad train wreck, all the cars slamming into each other at once, right where you're standing.
Olson says, "They reported it almost as if it was under ground or ground level."
The police chief is still trying to make sense of it.
Olson says, "We are currently investigating it. We don't have an answer at this point. We've obviously checked with our typical sources such as utility companies and anybody maybe drilling or doing construction in the area and at this point in time we don't' know what it is."
Lekas says, "It would be like in the old days when you had a sonic boom and your windows rattled, but I mean it shook the entire house."
For the last three days the Clintonville community has reported similar booms.
Now 80 miles away in Montello they're worried they might have the same problem.
Lekas says, "It's not just my imagination or a couple crazy people in town. I mean, I was thinking it was an explosion but we had no flames anywhere."