Tremors in US Northeast caused by sonic boom, not quake: Agency

Residents Report Feeling 'Tremors' In New Jersey After Sonic Boom

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Two fighter jets from a U.S. Navy base in Maryland may have caused a series of sonic booms on Thursday near the New Jersey coast that prompted hundreds of residents to report earthquake-like tremors.

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A spokeswoman for Naval Air Station Patuxent River said an F-35C and an F-18 were conducting routine flight testing over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday afternoon, which may have caused sonic booms.

People from New Jersey to Connecticut posted on social media and called local police departments to report a series of tremors starting just before 1:30 p.m.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquake activity, said no quake had struck. The agency reported at least nine sonic booms had been recorded over 90 minutes starting at 1:24 p.m. near Hammonton, New Jersey, about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Philadelphia.

A sonic boom is produced when an airplane travels faster than the speed of sound, or 768 miles per hour (1,236 kph). The sound waves can hit the Earth and cause shaking, which is sometimes mistaken for an earthquake, according to the USGS.

See reaction from people online:

New Jersey random sonic boom social reactions
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Tremors in US Northeast caused by sonic boom, not quake: Agency
Our Pentagon producer @LucasFoxNews talked to FAA & McGuire AFB -- both say they had nothing flying that could cause #Sonicboom
Aliens are invading New Jersey. What's the best way to let them know the other 49 states are just fine with this?
House just shook for the 5th time here in CT, along Long Island sound. Very light, but enough to make a door rattle each time #earthquake
So the government is telling us one sonic boom caused multiple tremors almost 30 minutes apart from #nj to #Connecticut? #earthquake riiight
If it happened once I'd believe a sonic boom, but l felt at least six over 30 minutes. So are they sonic booms or #earthquake
Previously reported "earthquake activity" now confirmed to be a sonic boom from an aircraft by US Geological Survey. NOT an earthquake.
What kind of airplane creates a sonic boom that's felt across hundreds of miles & multiple states? Something's fishy with that story.
Anyone else on Long Island feel earthquake or am I just losing it?
5th and strongest tremble I've felt. Would a sonic boom be felt more than once? #newjersey
That's 6 times and they seem to be getting stronger each time. #new jersey #earthquake? #sonicboom
Soooo I'm in Manahawkin #NewJersey and that's the 5th tremor in the last hour or so. #earthquake? First time I've ever felt that
ok it's either 6 or 7 shakes now. what's going on #NewJersey? are you testing bombs or something?? #earthquake
We are not reporting any type of seismic blasts anywhere in NJ. Looking to confirm reports of reported tremors.
The USGS has reported todays tremors were multiple Sonic Booms. The event was centered 2 miles NNE of Hammonton. No cause for concern.

Two days ago, residents in Charleston, South Carolina, also reported feeling tremors, likely caused by sonic booms from F-18 fighter jets on a training run from a nearby military base, according to media reports.

In New York, seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University confirmed no earthquake had occurred in the region on Thursday. The observatory measured vibrations and low-frequency sound waves consistent with about eight sonic booms from approximately 1:20 p.m. to 2:40 p.m., said Won-Young Kim, a research professor there.

He said residents on the ground likely would not have heard the booms but would have experienced 15 to 20 seconds of shaking during each one.

The tremors produced numerous emergency calls to local police departments, some of which took to Twitter to ask residents not to flood their lines with more reports.

No serious damage was immediately reported.

Test aircraft from the naval air station fly almost daily along the same route, according to the base's spokeswoman, but most sonic booms are never heard on land. Certain atmospheric conditions, however, can make the sound travel.

Some Twitter users offered a lighthearted response. One person using the handle @VixenRogue quipped: "Aliens are invading New Jersey. What's the best way to let them know the other 49 states are just fine with this?"

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