Land tremors, rumbling and loud bangs were reported to have been felt and heard by many people down the Aberdeenshire coast on Tuesday evening. Grampian Police confirmed they received a number of calls between 8.45pm and 11.15pm on Tuesday from concered members of the public. The rumbling is thought to have been heard and felt in a number of coastal areas including Stonehaven, Newtonhill, Muchalls, Portlethen, Inverbervie, Gourdon and St Cyrus and some reports were received from as far north as Cove and Torry.
Residents who felt the tremors said they felt their house shaking and windows rattling. The sounds were described as being like thunder coming from the ground, someone banging on a window, a motorbike engine starting up and dying quickly or the sudden sound of a train with no approaching or leaving noise. Many were left baffled at what they had heard and thought it was just something that had happened within their own homes or in the surrounding area, yet when other people raised their concern about the noise and movement an increasing number of people began saying they heard similar noises and felt tremors throughout the evening.
The first thought that came to many people’s minds was that it was an earthquake they were experiencing however the British Geological Survey (BGS), who operate over 100 seismograph stations across the UK, confirmed on Wednesday that it was definitely not an earthquake.
Glenn Ford, a Senior Seismologist at the British Geological Survey, said “I can see why people would have thought that what they were experiencing was an earthquake as a small earthquake would have had similar effects such as the loud bangs and rumbling reported.
“Our instruments are extremely sensitive in picking up earthquakes and there was nothing recorded. Earthquakes do happen in the UK but 90% of them go unnoticed by the general public and are only picked up on by these instruments. Therefore, had the sensations felt by the public last night (Tuesday) been an earthquake, we would most definitely know about it.
“From what I have heard people experienced, had it been an earthquake, or even an earthquake at sea, it would have been felt on a larger scale and all across the land as opposed to being felt only in coastal areas.”.
Mr Ford also said that it was more likely to be sonic boom from an aircraft going faster than the speed of sound.
As this only creates a pressure wave, the tremors caused by it cannot be detected by earthquake instruments. As planes are not permitted to fly supersonic over land, the BGS think they were doing so across the North Sea and the invisible waves of energy travelled towards the coastline where the impact was absorbed before reaching inland. Mr Ford also mentioned that meteroids and old satellites can cause sonic boom. A spokesman for the MoD said there is a strong possibility it could have been RAF jets.