Lockdowns And Decreased Seismic Noise

Scientists from the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels recently shared an observation that after lockdowns were imposed by governments all over the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a remarkable decline in human-linked vibrations within the crust of the Earth. And the scientists in Brussels, with the help of other scientists around the world, have published a new study in the journal “SCIENCE“, which shows how the ‘Seismic Noise’ has reduced, allowing them to observe and record previously concealed earthquakes better.

Courtesy- Stephen Hicks @seismo_steve

Measured using seismometers, seismic waves are the vibrations traveling within the Earth that could be set off by earthquakes or volcanoes. The waves could be subject to the disturbance caused due to human activities or naturally. In the study, it is found that the reduced human activity led to an average drop of around 50% human-caused seismic noise, which was recorded between March 2020 to May 2020. The drops in the seismic noise, especially in the urban areas, are unprecedented and are observed to be more than what is considered usual quiet periods like weekends, holidays, or during the night.

The scientists have termed this time of global anthropogenic or human-based seismic noise deduction as ‘Anthropause’. This anthropause can help the scientists get a more accurate measure of the seismic waves and to differentiate between human and natural seismic noise clearly.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Thomas Lecocq from the Royal Observatory of Belgium explains, “With increasing urbanization and growing global populations, more people will be living in geologically hazardous areas. It will, therefore, become more important than ever to differentiate between natural and human-caused noise so that we can ‘listen in’ and better monitor the ground movements beneath our feet.”

The scientists and researchers are hoping to move forward with their study of seismic lockdown and the previously hidden indications of earthquakes and volcanoes would be easier to be recognized and there will be a better understanding of the natural seismic waves.

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