Bermuda Triangle
An area of the Western Atlantic between Bermuda and Florida
where ships and planes are said to have vanished without a
trace. During the late 1960s, inspired largely by the volume by
Vincent Gaddis, Invisible Horizons True Mysteries of the Sea
(1965), a popular controversy erupted around claims that since
1945 over 100 ships and planes and more than 1,000 people
have disappeared in the Bermuda triangle. The area was also
termed ‘‘the Hoodoo Sea,’’ ‘‘the Devil’s Triangle,’’ ‘‘Limbo of
the Lost,’’ ‘‘the Twilight Zone,’’ and ‘‘Port of Missing Ships.’’
Charles Berlitz, who wrote several books on the triangle, speculated
on the possibility of time warps, electromagnetic impulses
from vanished civilizations, and extraterrestrial activities
in UFOs.
The controversy was largely put to rest by Lawrence David
Kusche in his book The Bermuda Triangle Mystery—Solved. Kusche
destroyed the mystery in a case-by-case discussion of the alleged
disappearances. Many had been solved, but popular writers
were unaware of the relevant literature. Others happened
outside of the triangle. Many had perfectly normal explanations.
Since Kusche’s book appeared, discussion of the Bermuda
triangle has been confined to the fringe, though a few writers
like Berlitz have tried to perpetuate interest.
Among the more interesting theories put forward to solve
the alleged mystery was proposed by Russian oceanographer
Vladimir Azhazha. In articles published in reputable scientific
journals in the U.S.S.R. and the United States, Azhazha suggested
that storms in the triangle area generate ‘‘infrasound’’—
low-frequency waves that are inaudible to human beings but
that can be magnified by special conditions to become a force
powerful enough to destroy ships and planes. Infrasound is a
frequency lower than 16 cycles per second. In an interview in
Moscow published in the National Enquirer (November 15,
1977), Azhazha stated that he believed infrasonic waves in the
Devil’s Triangle are amplified by such factors as changes in
water temperature and a powerful undersea river running in an
opposite direction to ocean currents.
Scientists at the Wave Propagation Laboratory of the U.S.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
confirm that the power of infrasonic vibrations does increase in
a storm and that sound can be carried thousands of miles. A
NOAA research oceanographer stated that there are very sharp
changes in the temperature of the water in the Devil’s Triangle
because of the Gulf Stream, and that different temperatures in
water could cause differences in the intensity of infrasound, either
increasing it or decreasing it.
In the National Enquirer, Azhazha stated ‘‘An infrasonic
sound wave can travel thousands of miles to find its victim in
a calm sea. If the wave is gigantic enough, a crew can perish almost
instantly. Death will come from stopping of the heart or
destruction of the cardiovascular system.’’ In the resulting
panic, a ship’s crew might even abandon ship. Azhazha claimed
that the hull and masts of the ship would begin to vibrate in
tune with the infrasound, cracking the ship and breaking it up.
Azhazha’s theory was published in the Soviet magazine Science
and Life, and a similar theory was also put forward by Soviet
science writer I. Boyetin. Tests conducted in France have supported
the theory that infrasound can damage ships, and Dr.
Freeman Hall, chief of the atmospheric acoustic program at
NOAA Wave Propagation Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, confirmed
that severe storms can generate such a phenomenon,
and that it can also be dangerous to human beings. The theory
has not been tested, however, because the mystery was largely
accounted for by other means. (See also Devil’s Jaw, another
area of claimed mysterious disappearances.)
Berlitz, Charles F. The Dragon’s Triangle. New York Wynwood
Press, 1989.
Berlitz, Charles, and J. Manson Valentine. The Bermuda Triangle.
Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday, 1974.
The Bermuda Triangle An Annotated Bibliography. Buffalo,
N.Y. Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Librarians Association
and Buffalo and Erie County Library, 1975.
Kusche, Lawrence D. The Bermuda Triangle—Solved. New
York Harper & Row, 1975.
Kusche, Lawrence David, and Deborah K. Blouin. Bermuda
Triangle Bibliography. Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State University Library,
Winer, Richard. The Devil’s Triangle. New York Bantam
Books, 1974