My appearance in
                1996Wayne Stegall

Copyright © 2012 by Wayne Stegall
Updated September 10, 2013.  See Document History at end for details.

Earth Music

What are the strange sounds heard around the world?

On October 14, 2011, ABC Nightline aired a segment about a mysterious hum heard by residents of Woodland in Durham County, England.  They represented the two month incident as curious oddity not as anything of significance.  Instead this has become a more widespread phenomenon.  The last I looked the internet is buzzing with speculation about strange sounds heard around the world.  When I first listened to the YouTube videos compiling various video recordings of these sounds they sounded familiar.  The sounds were resembled those of an aeolian harp in some way, with a shifting ethereal, seemingly pure tone, sound.  An aeolian harp is loosely strung so that wind will play it.  The sound changes in random ways depending on changing wind factors.  As applied to the strange sounds being heard, this connection increased the likeliness to my mind that there was a scientific explanation for them based on some seldom observed but natural phenomenon.

The most likely explanation is that the effect is seismic.  That a flurry of small earthquakes was reported from Vancouver, British Colombia down to California on February 16, 2012 in or near areas that heard the sounds seems to select this theory from the other possibilities.  A seismic interpretation is also encouraged by recent history:

March 11, 2011 A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan
August 23, 2011
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Mineral, VA shook the east coast of the United States.
November 15, 2011
The International Geodynamic Monitoring System, a part of GNFE (London, UK), registered on November 15, 2011 a powerful energy release emanating from the Earth’s core.1
February 16, 2012
NBC Nightly News reported multiple small earthquakes along West Coast from San Francisco to Vancouver, BC.

This seismic sound effect operates on the same physics by which a violin makes sound.  A violin makes its sound on the basis of non-linear nature of mechanical friction.  Apply horizontal force to a book sitting on a table.  It will resist motion until the force exceeds a threshold value, then the book will begin to slide.  The violin deliberately makes use of this principle.  Rosin on the bow creates a threshold value high enough that the string will catch when bowed until the threshold force is exceeded, then the string will slide quickly to its beginning position and catch again to begin the next cycle.  The result is that the movement of the violin strings follows the pattern of a sawtooth wave, which the soundboard transforms into a more complex signal.

Figure 1:  Sawtooth wave created by catch and release action of bow on violin strings.
sawtooth wave

The sliding of two earth crust plates against one another under the right conditions could create the same repetitive catch and release sequence as a bowed violin string to produce the impetus to produce musical sound.  Then the slide plane or the crust plates would oscillate under the impetus to create the final sound that is being heard.  That the crust is not under the same tension as a musical string or timpani drum head might create conditions suitable to the random selection of overtones as in an aeolian harp.2

These things certainly add to the impression that we are living in the end times generally, but do they forebode something more urgent?  Consider that these sounds are alleged to have been heard in connection with the Hawaii's slow volcanic activity.  Also, the similar Taos, New Mexico sounds occurred many years ago without any mishap.  These sounds represent energy release that perhaps would prevent undesired earthquakes if they are not building to something bigger.  On the other hand, if these sounds begin to be heard by everyone everywhere, grave consequences may result.3

This video is typical of that which may be found by the search words strange sounds around the world.

For now the embedded form of this old video says it does not exist, try link to youtube page.

This an excellent video of an aeolian harp for comparison

Just added September 9, 2013

I noticed that these sounds were being heard again, so I added this recent video:

Strange Sounds in Terrace, BC Canada August 29th 2013 7:30am (Vid#1)

Note for September 10, 2013

When I went to get new links and embeds to the same or equivalent youtube videos, several useful videos seen on regular pages had non-existent embeds so that the end result was invalid.  Hopefully it is all fixed now.

If your curiosity goes further, this is the original broken youtube embed.

and also its broken youtube page link.

1"Powerful Energy Release Emanating From The Earth’s Core Recorded,", link
2A related scientific explanation and another is offered by Mr. Khalilov in the article "Strange sounds in sky explained by scientists,", link.
3See article Norwegian Spiral to examine any connection between these phenomena.

Document History
February 25, 2012  Created.
February 25, 2012  Corrected mistaken date, changed some wording, and added two YouTube videos.
September 9, 2013  Discovery that this phenomena was occurring again led to repair of a YouTube link and the addition of a recent video.
Septempber 10, 2013  Corrected multiple problems with apparently broken youtube links and embeds.