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What is that loud noise you are hearing?
A cryoseism, also known as an ice quake or a frostquake, is a seismic event that may be caused by a sudden cracking action in frozen soil or rock saturated with water or ice. As water drains into the ground, it may eventually freeze and expand under colder temperatures, putting stress on its surroundings.
A cryoseism, also known as an ice quake or a frost quake, is a seismic event that may be caused by a sudden cracking action in frozen soil or rock saturated with water or ice. As water drains into the ground, it may eventually freeze and expand under colder temperatures, putting stress on its surroundings. This stress builds up until relieved explosively in the form of a cryoseism
Nothing sinister, assures Elwin Robison, a professor in Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design.
When the temperature plummets outside, so does the relative humidity in our homes as we crank up the heat. That dryness causes the wood parts of a home’s structure to shrink and scrape against one another, especially if those parts are under pressure — say, from the weight of snow on the roof, Robison said.
Sometimes the movement is sudden, causing a popping sound. Sometimes it’s slower, causing those creepy creaks and groans.
Robison said the culprit is often rafters moving against the top plate in the attic, with the plywood sheathing on the roof serving as a sounding board to project the noise. But other wood can be to blame, he said, even an outdoor deck that’s subject to force from the weight of furniture or a heavy barbecue grill.
The problem is often more noticeable in older homes, said Joseph Ferut Jr., a colleague of Robison’s in the architecture college. Newer homes are more thermally isolated from the outdoors, he said, and improvements in building science reduce the sudden movements.