Earthquake, Sonic Boom, or Military Test?

The USGS, the branch of our government that reports and monitors earthquakes, reported a small earthquake in southern Florida yesterday. Well, at least that's what they thought. Residents of the Tampa, Florida area felt strong shocks and sounds of explosions last night and many thought it might have been an earthquake too. But Florida doesn't usually experience these sorts of tremors. The military later released a statement saying that two F-18 fighter jets flying low and then landing at an area Air Force base created the shocks. But, is that the whole story?

When a plane flies faster than the speed of sound (about 750 miles per hour) it creates shock wave similar to the sound of thunder that can often be felt and heard on the ground. This sort of blast can trigger seismometers on the ground that are normally used to detect earthquakes. This might be why the USGS thought there was an earthquake in the area when the two planes flew overhead yesterday.

But residents aren't sure. Many people thought the blast they felt and heard was far too loud to be a simple sonic boom.

I was just watching TV and the house just shook for a long period of time. It just didn't seem like a sonic boom. I ended up calling my neighbor.

Donald Heling, Area Resident
Bradenton Herald

Seismologists, people who study the waves created by earthquakes have tested what an F-18 flying over a seismometer looks like. It would be interesting to compare their results with the results from the USGS to see if the data matches the military's claims. Seismometers are regularly used in this manner to detect events other than earthquakes. They can detect the presence of supersonic planes like the F-18 but can also detect large explosions (such as illegal nuclear tests) half way around they world.

Could the shocks felt on the ground have been caused by some other sort of military testing, more secret than two F-18 flying into town? What do you think?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

If F-18s regularly fly in and out of this Air Force base, wouldn't area residents know what they sound like? If they don't think it sounded or felt right, then I smell a rat, too.

posted on Fri, 03/25/2005 - 11:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We just had 2 aerial sonic booms in Minneapolis/St. Paul area at about 9:45PM 01/06/2006, a muffled boom that seemed far away and about 3 seconds later, one that seemed right over the roof of the house that made me reflexively duck and jump, the roof actually made a small pressure wave cracking sound in it at that moment. We never hear this sort of thing, the neighbors came outside. My impression is there was alos s sort of far off sound of what it sounds like at the international airport when jets take off on their steep ascent. Is someone over-flying the USA?

posted on Fri, 01/06/2006 - 10:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This Saturday morning (Feb 25th, 2006) at about 8:25AM in Rockledge Florida (not to far from Cape Canaveral) I heard a loud boom. The whole house shook. It sounded to me like a bomb went off not too far away. I've heard the same sound before a few months ago, also in the morning and if I'm not mistaken also during the weekend. I think they're sonic booms but I'm not sure. Usualy at the airshows they sound so much different and there is the following thundering roar, but no in the case of these booms I heard. What are they, anybody know?

posted on Sat, 02/25/2006 - 3:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This morning Tue. 9/19/06 at about 4:00AM I heard two booms. I remember reading a book about the shuttle which had a chart showing expected areas of Florida that would experience the sonic booms on landing. These areas were quite wide covering alot of the state. I suspect that there are military craft which re-enter and land at the Cape area at night to avoid attention. The booms are a close sequence of 2 claps as far as I can tell.

posted on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 3:46am

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