ice-storm-power-crews

Power crews work to clear downed poles and lines on the Acadian Peninsula as part of the restoration effort after the ice storm. (NB Power/Twitter)

Loud noises that many northern New Brunswickers reported hearing in recent days were not caused by an earthquake, a seismologist says.

Federal seismologist Stephen Halchuk cleared up some of the confusion about the noises in an email Monday to CBC News, confirming a quake wasn't the source.

Trees falling, branches shattering, electrical components failing — all of these could be the sources of the sounds - Stephen Halchuk, federal seismologist

On Friday and over the weekend, many New Brunswickers, especially in the Bathurst area, took to a Facebook group to discuss what they had heard.

Others wrote to CBC News describing "loud booms" and asking what they were.

Halchuk said Natural Resources Canada also received reports on Friday of loud sounds in northeastern New Brunswick, around the Baie des Chaleurs and on the Gaspésie in Quebec.

 "We reviewed our seismographs for this time period and see no evidence of any earthquakes large enough to be felt over a wide region," Halchuk wrote. "We are confident that the source of the sounds is not due to an earthquake."

According to information on the department's website, there were two earthquakes in northwestern New Brunswick on Jan. 26, but the magnitude of each was just a little above two.

On Saturday, a 1.8 magnitude earthquake occurred within 30 kilometres of Matane, Que., a community on the St. Lawrence River side of the Gaspé Peninsula.

Natural Resources Canada lists three small earthquakes in northwestern New Brunswick and on the north side of the Gaspé Peninsula around the same time as the booms people reported hearing.

But Halchuk suspects the sounds are more likely connected to the aftermath of the devastating ice storm last Tuesday that left so many people without power.

"The loud sounds (which were reported at different times in different localities) may be related to the ice storm in the region," Halchuk said in his email. "There are thousands of trees in the region that have suffered considerable damage."

Halchuk recalled the ice storm of 1998, which involved "lots of loud booms."

"Trees falling, branches shattering, electrical components failing — all of these could be the sources of the sounds," he said.

The seismologist did, however, note that he's "not an expert in the sources of loud sounds that may be associated with the extensive accumulation of ice."

With files from Jennifer Sweet