The San Diego Boom

The story of the mysterious San Diego boom continues, and now there is an offshore military connection. Fascinating X-Files-ish stuff.


  1. Michael Robinson says:
    “The thermobaric explosive used in this weapon, PBXIH-135 or a variant, was developed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Indian Head Division and had previously been used in BLU-118/B air-dropped bombs against al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan in early March, 2002.”
    A classified skunkworks project for a massive thermobaric device wouldn’t surprise me in the least, given the current push from the administration for and pushback from the top Pentagon brass against using tactical nukes in Iran.
    The idea would be to suck all the air out of underground bunkers through the ventilator shafts.
    “It draws in the unexploded burning fuel to create almost complete penetration of all non-airtight objects within the blast radius, which are then incinerated. Asphyxiation and internal damage can also occur to personnel outside the highest blast effect zone, e.g. in deeper tunnels, as a result of the blast wave, the heat, or the following air draw.”
    In theory, anyway.
    “The Soviet facility still exists, and much of what the U.S. knows about it remains classified. �The �tell� ��the giveaway��was the ventilator shafts, some of which were disguised,� the former senior intelligence official told me. At the time, he said, it was determined that �only nukes� could destroy the bunker. He added that some American intelligence analysts believe that the Russians helped the Iranians design their underground facility. �We see a similarity of design,� specifically in the ventilator shafts, he said.
    A former high-level Defense Department official told me that, in his view, even limited bombing would allow the U.S. to �go in there and do enough damage to slow down the nuclear infrastructure�it�s feasible.� The former defense official said, �The Iranians don�t have friends, and we can tell them that, if necessary, we�ll keep knocking back their infrastructure. The United States should act like we�re ready to go.� He added, �We don�t have to knock down all of their air defenses. Our stealth bombers and standoff missiles really work, and we can blow fixed things up. We can do things on the ground, too, but it�s difficult and very dangerous�put bad stuff in ventilator shafts and put them to sleep.�
    But those who are familiar with the Soviet bunker, according to the former senior intelligence official, �say �No way.� You�ve got to know what�s underneath�to know which ventilator feeds people, or diesel generators, or which are false. And there�s a lot that we don�t know.� The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. �Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,� the former senior intelligence official said. � �Decisive� is the key word of the Air Force�s planning. It�s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.�”

  2. This story seems to give a plausabile explanation, more so than Sundays paper did. Military sounds a lot more believable than a UFO. Still, It really felt like an earthquake to me as I was in clinic at Escondido.

  3. So if it where this deep bunker type weapon, and the administration posturing for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities – could we have a plausible explanation? I dunno.

  4. Michael Robinson says:

    “In response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) organized a 60-day joint project with NSWC Indian Head, the Air Force and Department of Energy to identify, test and integrate a solution to deliver a new capability for tunnel defeat. NSWC Indian Head was responsible for the payload and booster design, as well as loading of the new bombs.
    After static and flight tests at full-scale tunnel facilities at the Department of Energy’s Nevada test site, the program culminated in December with a successful flight test of a laser-guided weapon, containing Indian Head’s PBXIH-135 thermobaric explosive, launched from an F-15E Strike Eagle. NSWC Indian Head, along with DTRA and the Air Force, are engaged in a three-year advanced Concept Technical Demonstration of another thermobaric weapon. Indian Head is developing the new payload, which will have superior performance to that of PBXIH-135.”

  5. Andy Nelson says:

    Question: What was that deep sounding noise?
    Answer: “a low-frequency wave that traveled through the air at the speed of sound”
    How much funding does the Scripps Institution receive to come up with brilliant scientific insights such as this?

  6. Oh, military tests? I thought it was just the sound of the housing bubble popping.
    Seriously though, the following link is pretty fascinating in terms of putting “loud noises” in perspective (Sonic booms start at around 210 dB):
    I’m hardley an expert in sound propagation, but I think being heard from 200 miles away would make it considerably louder than a typical sonic boom, and a really impressive one if it was an explosion. Sonic booms usually propagate for 20-100 miles (according to about 1 mile for 1000 ft of altitude, which seems to agree with other sources).

  7. Andy — Funny, I had the same reaction. It was like talking to my four-year-old.
    Q: What made that loud noise?
    A: A loud noise.

  8. Michael Robinson says:

    Paul: “It was like talking to my four-year-old.”
    That would be the four-year-old you originally thought had caused the noise by falling down the stairs?
    In fairness to the scientists, their explanation, while seemingly tautological, does rule out a number of possible causes, such as earthquakes and four-year-olds.