Tokyoflash Treasure Hunt - Win a Tokyoflash Watch of Your Choice!
Going on right now: Tokyoflash Treasure Hunt #26. Win a Tokyoflash watch and neat stuff from the NeatoShop. It's fun and easy to play: Link

Frostquakes

People in Canada have reported large booming sounds that didn't lead to any explosives. What they are hearing are "frostquakes," which is kind of like an earthquake, but produced by the cold weather.

Known to experts as cryoseisms, frostquakes happen when moisture that has seeped into the ground freezes very quickly. It expands and builds up pressure, causing the frozen soil or rock near the surface to crack, emitting a sound that people have likened to a sonic boom.

They're not very common because they require such a rapid change in temperature. In southern Ontario, a drop from 5C (41F) to about -20C (-4F) was preceded by an ice storm, which ensured there was a lot of moisture in the ground that became ice.

That doesn't happen every year, says Geoff Coulson of Environment Canada, who says the term "frostquake" is new to him. It's like a very weak earthquake and the house might shake but there is hardly ever significant damage, he says, and it will only be felt or heard within a kilometre (0.6 miles) at most.

Where I live, we had rain and then snow with rapidly-falling temperatures (below zero now), but if I heard a big boom, I would just assume it's the nearby railroad. Read more about frostquakes at BBC News. -via Carl Zimmer


Newest 2
Newest 2 Comments

I live in Toronto and with the recent ice storm, huge branches of trees were falling due to the icy excess weight. On Christmas eve, I heard a huge sound and felt the house shake. I thought one of the trees in the backyard had fallen on my roof. I ran outside but the trees were intact. I remember that the air was extremely dry and cold. That's when I first heard about the frost quakes. I've heard several more since then but they still make me jump.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It is a fairly common occurrence with the ice sheets on Lake Superior. I am told that if you are next to the Lake when it happens, it is quite impressive.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Check out Twaggies' first animated clip:

Grammar Nazi's Rock? Twaggies by twaggies
Email This Post to a Friend
"Frostquakes"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window