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Did you hear it?
Two professors from the University of British Columbia say it’s unlikely the loud scraping sounds heard around Terrace on the morning of August 29 have their origin in the sky or the bowels of the earth.
Rumours began to swirl after clips were posted online that the source of the screeching noises heard on both sides of town was solar flares in the atmosphere, or the shifting of tectonic plates.
People compared the noises to a moose call, scraping metal, angels and whale song.
UBC professor of astrophysics Brett Gladman pointed out that the sound was something like the noise northern lights can make, but that anything coming from the atmosphere “would not have been confined to only a few kilometres.”
Nor, said Gladman, is the sound an asteroid or thermal burst like the one that shattered hundreds of windows in Russia this winter.
“The fact that it’s an extended sound rules that out,” said Gladman. “I would favour a more geological and not an astronomical explanation as a better road to the truth.”
Director of geological engineering at UBC, Erik Eberhardt, doesn’t think it would be anything such as the scraping of tectonic plates as some pseudoscientists have hazarded to guess online.
“For it to scrape enough at depth for people to hear it would have to generate a lot of movement. People would have felt it before they heard it,” said Eberhardt, adding that he thought the sound seemed more metallic than ‘rock on rock,’ and ruled out the sliding of glaciers.
“Maybe it’s somebody playing around with a horn,” he said.
Reports of similar noises have come from various locations around Canada and the rest of the world, and were heard before this past June in Terrace, though the sounds were less intensely loud as those described this time by witnesses.