SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Air Force took responsibility Wednesday for a set of mysterious booms that had scientists stumped as they pondered the origin of the vibrations that were widely reported across northern Utah.
They were B-52 bombing runs in the desert.
Seismologists said the booms weren’t an earthquake. The Air Force at first denied involvement, saying its fighter jets didn’t break the sound barrier. Aerospace company ATK said it wasn’t testing any rockets. And asteroid and meteorite watchers had nothing to report.
It had to be something.
“It was like my walls were shaking,” said Catherine Whidden of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, who noted instruments recorded back-to-back booms around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
She believed the low-frequency rumble originated in the atmosphere and not from beneath the ground.
That shifted attention to Hill Air Force Base, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City, which flies squadrons of sound-busting F-16s.
Hill officials blamed the 2nd Bomb Wing of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, which was using B-52s to drop bombs in Utah’s west desert.
“We believe conditions were perfect for the noise to travel a long distance,” Air Force spokesman George Jozens said Wednesday.