Residents and village and county officials are trying to find out exactly what goes “boom” in the day and night in Valmeyer.
There have been several reports of mysterious loud noises heard by multiple Valmeyer residents at random times throughout the past couple of months.
“I’d call it a sonic boom,” said Tim Valentine, who resides at 423 Bluff Meadows Drive in new Valmeyer.
“It almost sounds as if lightning had struck right next to your house.”
Valentine said he first heard one of these loud noises in late November, right around noon. His wife heard a similar noise again the very next day.
“I figured something blew up,” Valentine, a volunteer firethe noise. “All the dishes and cabinets rattled in our kitchen.”
Other “booms” have been reported in the Valmeyer area since that time, the most recent one occurring shortly before 4 a.m. this past Friday.
Tim’s father, Dennis Valentine, works part-time as Valmeyer’s village manager. Dennis started keeping track of all the times residents had called Village Hall or the police department to report these booms.
The Monroe County Emergency Management Agency was also contacted to look into the matter.
Research was conducted on recent earthquake activity in the region. Area rock quarries were also contacted for information on dates and times of recent blastings.
“None of the times of these noises match with anything going on at those quarries,” Dennis Valentine said.
Monroe County EMA Director Ryan Weber said his office checked with the U.S. Geological Survey and Saint Louis University Geology Department for answers, but could not pin-point a source for these unexplained noises.
“We eventually found this information on cryoseism, or ‘frost quakes.'”
This rare natural cold-weather phenomena has been reported throughout the Northeast and Upper Midwest during what has been an especially frigid winter.
According to media accounts, frost quakes can occur when moisture in the ground suddenly freezes and expands. Frost quakes can strike when the rapid melting of snow saturates underground streams. When temperatures suddenly reach near 0 degrees, the water table expands and starts cracking the soil and smashing nearby rock formations.
“I checked with Jim Kramper from the National Weather Service and (meteorologist) Dave Murray from FOX 2 and they both stated that the frost quakes can happen at any time,” Weber said.
While these frost quakes might explain the most recent reported booms this cold winter, the mystery remains as to what may have led to similar noises before the weather turned cold a couple of months ago.
“I can see a possible correlation with the frost quakes for those booms that have been heard within the past six weeks, but I would have to agree that it would be hard to tie that condition to the ones that were heard last fall,” said Dennis Knobloch, former Valmeyer mayor and current village administrator.
Knobloch hasn’t personally heard any of the booms, but said he has talked with multiple residents who have heard and described them.
“At this point, we are continuing to collect data to see if we can come up with a related cause,” he said.
The village has studied all of the initial sinkhole research that was conducted by the Illinois Geological Survey and Illinois Department of Transportation prior to construction of the new town site in 1994.
“We have ruled out any correlation with that activity,” Knobloch said.