Reports of earth shaking in Maine possibly due to cryoseisms.

In each instance listed below, the reported effects were felt by a single household or a few neighbors, and occurred when the New England seismic monitoring network detected no true earthquake activity. These reports were received by the Maine Geological Survey (MGS) by phone, e-mail, or web site submission.

Report 1.
Date January 14, 2000 and January 15, 2000
Local Time 4-8 a.m. At least three or four times both nights.
Town Skowhegan
Reported effects Deep rumbling that seemed to quickly pass through the house. House creaked, windows rattled, small objects vibrated.
MGS Comments Probable cryoseisms. Occurrence during cold overnight hours, and recurrence on successive nights are typical. National Weather Service records from the town of Gray show that south-central Maine had unusually warm temperatures from January 1 to 12 (including rain), followed by a week of very cold temperatures. In addition, the ground was bare until the first measurable snowfall of the winter on January 16. This is the ideal weather scenario for the reported cryoseisms on the 14th and 15th.
Report 2.
Date December 13, 2000
Local Time 7:20 p.m.
Town Hollis
Reported effects Felt chair and computer "shudder" and house vibrate twice, for 3-4 seconds each, about 5 minutes apart.
MGS Comments According to the National Weather Service records for December, 2000, the temperature did drop dramatically on the 13th, after two warm days, and there was no snow cover until the 14th, so cryoseisms could occur. But the low temperature was still above zero, and the reported occurrence in early evening would not have been during the coldest part of the day, so it is uncertain whether this was a cryoseism.
Report 3.
Date February 11, 2002
Local Time 7:35 p.m.
Town Wayne
Reported effects Booming sound
MGS Comments February, 2002, was marked by a lack of snowfall and generally warm temperatures (see NWS monthly summary). The daily record shows overnight temperatures dropped to near zero from 2/11 to 2/14, so this report might represent a cryoseism.
Report 4.
Date February 25, 2003
Local Time 3 a.m.
Town Phillips
Reported effects Loud boom. Crack outside, in snow crust, 1/2 inch wide and 30 ft. long. Crack in concrete cellar floor the length of the house (70 ft.)
MGS Comments Records from the National Weather Service office in Gray for February, 2003 show that after being unseasonably warm from the 19th to the 24th, overnight temperatures did drop to zero on the 25th. The reported occurrence at 3 a.m. is typical of cryoseisms. But there was significant snow cover at the time, which is unusual for cryoseisms.
Report 5.
Date January 14, 2004
Local Time 12:30 a.m.
Town Lewiston
Reported effects Whole house shook hard for maybe 3 seconds. Felt like an explosion down the street. Rumbling, but no noise.
MGS Comments National Weather Service records for early January, 2004, show ideal conditions for cryoseisms: Very thin snow cover, seasonable or above normal temperatures from January 1 to 7, then a cold snap from the 8th to the 16th. The high temperature in Gray on the date of this report was 3 degrees below zero, with a low of -14. Probably a cryoseism.
Report 6.
Date January 15, 2004
Local Time around 10 p.m.
Towns Turner - Mechanic Falls area
Reported effects County Emergency Management officials received several calls about shaking and loud noises.
MGS Comments Probably cryoseisms. This was the second consecutive day of subzero temperatures.
Report 7.
Date January 16, 2004
Local Time 3:50 a.m.
Towns Montville and Unity
Reported effects Moderately loud rumble and tremor, similar to blasting of bedrock during construction. People were awakened.
MGS Comments Reports from the two towns were probably separate small cryoseism events at about the same time. Third consecutive day of subzero temperatures.
Report 8.
Date January 26, 2004
Local Time 5:15 a.m.
Town Kennebunk
Reported effects Moderately loud boom. Small crack in ground for 25-30 feet. Neighbors did not notice anything.
MGS Comments National Weather Service records in southern Maine for late January, 2004, show ideal conditions for cryoseisms: No snow cover, seasonable temperatures from January 17 to 22, then a cold snap with high temperatures in the teens, and low temperatures below zero. Probably a cryoseism.
Report 9.
Date January 21, 2005
Local Time 2:08 a.m.
Town Auburn
Reported effects Loud rattling noises awakened people in house. Lamps and other objects on tables vibrated and moved. Caused new crack in driveway, about ¼ inch wide. Cracked ceramic tile in kitchen.
MGS Comments Probably a cryoseism. National Weather Service records in southern Maine for January, 2005, show seasonable to above normal temperatures from January 1 to 16, then a cold snap from the 17th to the 21st. Relatively thin snow cover after rain on the 14th. Occurrence after midnight and presence of a crack on plowed driveway are consistent with cryoseism.
Report 10.
Date January 28, 2005
Local Time 11:58 p.m.
Town Eustis
Reported effects Moderately loud noise - I'd call it a good jolt. I checked the basement [for damage]. Small objects vibrated.
MGS Comments Probably a cryoseism. National Weather Service records in southern Maine for January, 2005, show cold nighttime temperatures from the 17th to the 28th. Occurrence at midnight and felt effects are typical of cryoseisms.
Report 11.
Date January 28 and 30, 2005
Local Time (1/28) 8:30 and 10:45 p.m.;
(1/30) 6:30, 7:30, 8:45, and 9:10 p.m.
Town Limington
Reported effects Noise and ground shaking. A neighbor went outside to see if his car had exploded. Crack in paved driveway.
MGS Comments Probably cryoseisms. National Weather Service records in southern Maine for January, 2005, show cold nighttime temperatures from the 17th to the 30th. Repeated occurrence on different nights is common.

Web text by Henry Berry

Last updated on April 27, 2012