Mystery boom rattles Outer Banks, shaking windows and ripping pictures off walls

Late Thursday morning, a big boom shook parts of the Outer Banks, rattling windows, shaking pictures off walls, scaring family pets and driving people to social media to see if anyone knew the source.

The rumbles are a jarring but familiar phenomena along the chain of barrier islands in North Carolina. They even have a name: Seneca guns. But what causes the episodes — which have been heard and felt for centuries — is a long-debated mystery.

Thursday’s single boom vibrated across Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills around 11:30 a.m. The on-duty seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey searched for any seismic activity in the area strong enough to cause the boom, but found nothing.

A spokesperson with Marine Corps said neither the Marines nor military partners were conducting training or flights in the area Thursday. A spokesperson for Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach said the same.

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