DECEMBER 21, 2005 -- What's being described as a big boom shook houses along the coast late Tuesday afternoon. Phone calls started pouring into the newsroom shortly after 4:00, with people questioning what the noise was. Now WECT has obtained a tape with the boom recorded on it.
Alex Markowski is a professor at UNC Wilmington and a sound engineer working at the Screen Gems Studio in Wilmington. Tuesday afternoon, during a recording session with a crew from the NBC series Surface, the low frequency waves from the boom picked up sound on Markowski's equipment.
Some people described it as a loud bang. Others say it was like several explosions. They say their windows rattled and homes shook under the force.
WECT called 911 centers around the area. There were no reports of any accidents or damage in relation to the bangs. Officials at the nuclear power plant didn't report any problems either. Right now, authorities are just not sure what caused the noise.
One theory is a natural phenomena called Seneca Guns. It's never been fully explained but people along the coast have talked about it for centuries. Some say the sound originates when chunks of the continental shelf drop into the Atlantic Ocean.
It doesn't just happen along the coast. In fact, the name comes from Seneca Lake in New York where the big booms have been heard for years.
Five years ago, the Seneca Guns fired here. A scientist from UNCW said the rumbling came from the ocean, and there were various theories but no rock solid explanation. He said there was nothing to worry about. It was just noise. No one was hurt then and no damage was recorded.