Canada 'Frost Quake': Extreme Cold Causes Loud Sound 'Like a Gunshot'

Monday, 06 Jan 2014 08:19 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Frigid temperatures in Ontario, Canada have residents experiencing what is being called a "frost quake" across the province.

Canadian environment meteorologist Geoff Coulson told the Toronto Sun that the frost quake creates a booming noise that occurs when water filters into porous soil, freezes suddenly and becomes subject to shifting and expanding.

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"It's like a low-grade earthquake," Coulson said. 

Brockville, Ont. developer Michael Veenstra told the Toronto Sun that he and his wife have heard the frost quake noises in early morning walks near the Brockville Mental Health Centre for a couple of weeks.

"It’s like a gunshot," Veenstra said. "A very quick sharp noise and it is loud. Loud enough for my wife to shriek. If you never heard it before, it's pretty eerie. It can be frightening if you don't know what’s going on."

CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said Friday that the frost quakes became prominent over the weekend when temperatures dropped to –20 C. 

"All of a sudden that ice starts to expand — it's like having a lid on top of a bottle, that pressure builds and builds until finally something gives, the ice expands, the pressure is released, the ground cracks and we hear what sounds or even feels like a very localized earthquake," Scotland said.

"This is not an earthquake. It's ice expanding under the ground, and it leads to a loud boom and gets folks pretty scared when it happens in the middle of the night. Very rare, very cool but very scary," Scotland added.

The frost quake prompted a stir on social media in the Canada.

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