Every day, we are bombarded with a chorus of sounds loud and quiet. From the blaring buzz of an alarm clock to a soft conversation at the office, roaring lawn mower next door to the calming music during a yoga class, and so much more. With our neighborhoods and cities growing louder and louder by the day, have you ever stopped and wondered, what is the loudest sound in the world? The loudest noise in the world has in fact been identified, as well as other incredibly loud noises that make up some of the most intense sounds humans have ever experienced.
Loudest Sound on Record
While you may have convinced yourself that your upstairs neighbors’ heavy footsteps are the loudest sound on earth, in actuality that title belongs to the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano on an Indonesian island in 1883. Emitting the loudest sound ever recorded, the volcanic eruption reached a staggering 180 decibels. The sound was so incredibly loud that it was heard up to 3000 miles away on the island of Rodrigues, as well as almost 2000 miles away in Perth, Australia. Another indicator of the sheer power of this sound is that the eruption caused eardrums to rupture in individuals who lived 40 miles away.
Following the eruption, as the sound continued to travel, changes in atmospheric pressure were recorded in parts of the world even further. While individuals on the other side of the world did not hear the “boom” associated with the eruption, the tensing and releasing of air created by the sound are what caused spikes in atmospheric pressure.
Other Incredibly Loud Sounds
So what else is up there with the loudest noise on earth? Among the top 10 loudest fireworks, gunfire, and rock concerts have been identified. In fact, the loudest firecracker in the world has been recorded at a shocking 140-150 decibels. At the very top of the list of top 10 loudest noises, however, sit sounds from the Tunguska meteor, earthquakes, and the 1-Ton TNT bomb.
Tunguska Meteor: In 1908, a huge explosion took place in proximity to the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Russia. The massive explosion occurred at 7:40am on the morning of June 30th. The explosion is believed to have been caused by an air burst from a meteor some 3-6 miles above the Earth’s surface. Fortunately, there were no reported casualties from the explosion, however an estimated 770 square miles of forest was completely flattened. The sound from the Tunguska meteor was measured with a decibel rating of 300-315.
Earthquakes: It may come as no surprise that a particularly strong earthquake could create an incredibly loud sound. If you were to find yourself on the ground level at the epicenter of a magnitude 5 earthquake, you could experience decibel levels up to 235.
I-Ton TNT Bomb: when we think of incredibly loud noises, bombs are usually the first thing to come to mind. From 250 feet away, the explosion from a one-ton bomb can reach staggering levels of up to 210 decibels.
Effects of Loud Sounds on the Body
Exposure to incredibly loud noises like those mentioned above would have serious consequences on your health. Being in close vicinity to a bomb or volcanic eruption can immediately rupture your eardrums, most likely causing permanent damage and hearing loss. Additionally, the sound waves created from such loud noises would cause intent, violent, and painful shaking that would make you feel as if your body is being compressed. Additionally, you would experience visual disturbances like blurry vision, and breathing would be impacted. Cases of exposure to extremely loud noise can even result in death depending on how close you are to the source of the sound.
While it may be an exciting prospect to experience the loudest sound in the world, it reality, it would be an incredibly unsafe, harmful, and overall unpleasant experience. Even many of the everyday sounds we encounter can have a lasting impact on our health and hearing, with such effects including high blood pressure, hearing loss, stress, and increased risk for stroke.
For this reason, it is imperative to protect your ears, not only to ensure good hearing but also to maintain a positive quality of life. Some simple steps you can take today to limit your noise exposure are to turn music down when listening to headphones, wear ear plugs when attending loud concerts, and invest in soundproof windows in your home or apartment to minimize the amount of external noise that can disrupt sleep and cause distractions.