• What is a frost quake?

    By: Danielle Dozier

    Updated:

    Have you been hearing loud pops around your home lately? 

    The arctic blast has a strong grip on western Pennsylvania. Subzero temperatures and the sun have done little to melt the snow and ice still covering the ground.

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    The snow and ice on your wooden deck is partially to blame for the unusual popping and banging sounds you may be hearing lately. 

    When materials such as wood are this cold, they contract, and if they have water in them, that water freezes and expands and that contracting and expands, causing the loud popping noise. 

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    They're called frost quakes or cryoseisms, and they can happen at the Earth’s surface, too, when the exposed rock tries to contract while the water within freezes and expands. 

    However, the word "quake" can be deceiving. This phenomena is not an earthquake because it’s not associated with any faults. Still, if the movement is great enough, you may be able to detect it on a seismograph. 


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