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Local residents report mysterious blasts, tremors
[October 08, 2009]

Local residents report mysterious blasts, tremors

Oct 08, 2009 (The Deming Headlight - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Deming was not under attack, nor was it the victim of an earthquake in recent days. The loud noises reported by locals on Tuesday and Wednesday may have been the result of sound waves from explosions coupled with atmospheric conditions.

Locals were calling the Deming Headlight Wednesday, reporting that they had heard loud noises, similar to the "sonic boom" created when a jet airplane breaks the sound barrier. Local businessman Jim Reedy reported hearing and feeling four incidents on Tuesday and one Wednesday morning.

"Have you ever been in a building when a huge, heavy truck goes by," he asked when prompted to describe the incidents. He said family members in Luna County and the Village of Columbus reported similar experiences. "That's what it felt and sounded like. A couple of times, I was standing near the window and there was nothing out there." James Morgan, director of the Playas Training and Research Center, about 75 miles southeast of Deming, confirmed there are industrial explosives being set off near the center, but had a hard time connecting the explosions and reports in Deming.

Morgan said when he approached scientists with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, which operates the Playas facility, with reports of explosions being heard in Deming, one reply was, "You've got to be kidding." "We found out, the detonations are within three minutes of what you guys are reporting as hearing," he said. "That would be about right for the distances involved." He said the scientists are speculating that the sound waves -- those resulting from the detonation of 8,500 pounds of explosives -- may have traveled into the "extremely high, upper-level atmosphere." "The sound waves could actually be going into the upper atmosphere and be allowed to hold together as it's ducted to your direction," he later added.

He reported a crew, about five miles away from the detonation site, could hear the explosion, but it was just "a loud noise" and it "didn't shake us at all." How the sound waves created by the explosion could travel 75 miles while retaining its powerful energy is puzzling his crew.

"They're looking into it now," he said. "They can't imagine a scenario where you would have pulse energy sufficient to rattle a building." Reedy reported four incidents on Tuesday and one Wednesday morning, which align with Morgan's reports of their explosions. Morgan said there will be six more explosions through Friday.

"It's not going to be a dangerous thing," he added.

Arlan Ponder, with public affairs at Holloman Air Force Base, said folks with concerns -- such as hearing "sonic booms" -- may contact his office to determine if it is Air Force related. His office can be reached at (575) 572-7381.

Matt Robinson can be reached at To see more of The Deming Headlight, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, The Deming Headlight, N.M.

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