Mystery looms over loud booms

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Clintonville, Wis.

A series of underground booms and explosions rattled the nerves of residents in this small city this week, sending police and public officials searching for a cause. Resident Al Miller likened the sounds to “a heavy-duty thunderstorm,” while a neighbor said it “sounded like a bomb had gone off.” On three successive nights, loud sonic disturbances roused people from their beds and sent them scurrying into the streets—some in their pajamas, said city administrator Lisa Kuss.

While calls flooded in to police stations, authorities consulted geologists; checked methane levels at the landfill; monitored water, sewer, and gas lines; reviewed mining permits; and inspected the Pigeon River dam next to City Hall, all to no avail. Harold Tobin, a University of Wisconsin seismologist, said, “I’m as intrigued and as puzzled as other people are.”