Tremors in northeast U.S. caused by sonic boom, not quake: agency

NEW YORK Residents in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut reported feeling earthquake-like shaking on Thursday afternoon, but U.S. seismologists said the vibrations were likely the result of a sonic boom.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquake activity, said no quake had struck and confirmed that a probable sonic boom had occurred near Hammonton, New Jersey, about 35 miles southeast of Philadelphia.

On Twitter, users reported feeling several tremors, particularly in southern New Jersey.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the sonic boom, though some news reports suggested that military aircraft from McGuire Air Force Base, approximately 35 miles north of Hammonton, were the likely source.

The McGuire base said in a Twitter post around 3:30 p.m. that its training ranges were clear and that none of its aircraft are capable of creating sonic booms. In a subsequent post, the base said it was working with local authorities to determine a cause.

The tremors produced numerous emergency calls to local police. The police department in Hamilton, New Jersey, took to Twitter to ask residents not to phone in any more reports.

Some Twitter users offered a lighthearted response. One person using the handle @VixenRogue quipped: “Aliens are invading New Jersey. What’s the best way to let them know the other 49 states are just fine with this?”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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