Wisconsin town plagued by booming sounds gets quake detectors

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2012 2:33 PM
Wisconsin town plagued by booming sounds gets quake detectors

(Reuters) - Geologists have installed four seismometers to detect earthquakes in the Wisconsin town of Clintonville where for two weeks residents have been jolted by booms that scientists trace to minor tremors, a town official said on Friday.

Determined not to let Clintonville's minor celebrity status go to waste, the town near Green Bay has sold some 230 T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "I Survived the 1.5." Proceeds will be used for a beautification project.

The town experienced a small 1.5 magnitude quake on March 20 at 12:16 a.m., which was detected by U.S. Geological Survey sensors, the closest of which was 15 miles away, town administrator Lisa Kuss said.

"Now we've got more detectors," Kuss said.

Assistant geology professor Greg Waite of Michigan Technological University and two graduate students installed four seismographs in shallow ground around the town of 4,500 on Thursday. Seismic readings will be fed to the USGS database.

USGS geologists believe Clintonville may be experiencing a swarm of smaller tremors, which can cause booming and rattling sounds as the seismic waves reach the surface.

Calls flooded the town's police department on Tuesday, but the USGS was unable to determine if there was a quake because there was too much background noise, mainly high winds.

"It's been pretty quiet (since Tuesday). We got four calls last night, so there was some activity, but it wasn't one of those 'holy smokes' nights," Kuss said.

So far, only one homeowner has claimed slight damage to her foundation, which may or may not be due to the quakes, Kuss said.

(Reporting By Andrew Stern; Editing by Paul Thomasch)