GRUNDY COUNTY, Mo. — Unexplained loud booms have been affecting residents around Grundy County for weeks, and the cause has yet to be determined.
“It’s weird because it’s unlike most booming noises you hear,” said Glen Briggs, the emergency management director of Grundy County. “If you hear a car crash or something like that, you can pretty well tell which direction it came from. When I heard it, I couldn’t identity which direction it came from. It resembled thunder, but there were no thunderstorms in the area.”
Trenton residents began reporting their experiences of these booms after they heard it for the first time Feb. 14.
“I instantly made a post on our emergency management Facebook page and asked if anyone else heard it,” Briggs said. “We had close to 100 people comment saying they heard it. Several people said they felt it. They described a loud thud, rattling, some saw flashes of light and smoke.”
Trenton police arrived in a matter of minutes to the area where residents were affected, but didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.
“No one lost power, so we quickly ruled out a transformer explosion,” Briggs said. “That particular one was heard as far as 5 to 7 miles away. Whatever it was, it was very loud, but we we’re never able to identify the source.”
Briggs has been working on the mystery ever since, creating a spreadsheet of the sounds’ potential origin, which falls into one of two categories.
“There’s a handful of evidence that says this has to be man-made. And there’s a handful of evidence that says no, it’s got to be natural,” Briggs said. “But we don’t have enough evidence either way to say is this an earthquake, or is this someone blowing something up?”
Briggs said those in the geological sciences and engineering department at Missouri University of Science and Technology have supplied their expertise to help officials find the source. They’ve investigated whether the noises could be tied to groundwater, fracking fluid or the shifting of tectonic plates.
“One interesting geological instance that has occurred in our area before was when some sort of gas was coming out of the ground for no apparent reason,” Briggs said. “They may be correlated, but no one has been able to confirm that a boom has happened in an area where we had reports of gas coming out of the ground.”
The timing of these noises also varies considerably. Whether it’s a weekday, weekend, 4 p.m. or 1 a.m., the noises have been occurring at random.
“There is no pattern to them,” Briggs said. “There does seem to be a slight tendency for them to be occurring from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., but using that for an edge on this mystery is very slight.”
Briggs said residents in surrounding counties, including Mercer and Sullivan, also have reportedly heard the booms.
Anyone who thinks they may have heard the booms is asked to post their experience to the “Grundy County Emergency Management” Facebook page. Briggs asks residents to post as much description as possible, including time, exact location and any other related details.
“Even if you think it’s something very trivial, like smelling something after one of the booms,” Briggs said, “let us know what it smelled like. If it’s the smell of a firecracker going off or something like that, it can help us point to it being man-made. If it’s an unfamiliar smell that’s foreign, maybe it’s something natural.”