Brontides: Natural Explosive Noises

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Science  27 Apr 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4391, pp. 371-375
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4391.371


Episodes of explosive noises of natural origin, or brontides, have been well documented, often in association with seismic activity and in a few cases as precursors to major earthquakes. Ground-to-air acoustic transmission from shallow earthquakes can account for many of these episodes, but not for all, and other causes, such as the sudden eruption of gas from high-pressure sources in the ground may at times have been responsible. Confusion with distant thunder or artillery at times of anomalous sound propagation complicates the analysis, and more recently the greatly increased frequency of artificial explosive noises and sonic booms has tended to mask the recognition of natural brontides.