A lone man walks a dog on an empty street, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, near apartments in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday, March 23, 2020, ordered nonessential businesses to close and the state’s more than 7 million residents to stay home in efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

COVID-19 lockdowns reduced the earth’s seismic noise by up to 50%

New study looked at seismic stations from 117 countries during the pandemic

It wasn’t long ago that COVID-19 forced hundreds of thousands around the world to self-isolate in their homes, bringing with it eerily empty streets, parks and other public spaces.

A new international study has found that social contact restrictions at the height of the global pandemic went so far to cause an unprecedented drop in noise.

Seventy international researchers reviewed seismic data from stations in 117 countries – including in Vancouver – and found that “seismic noise,” or vibrations generated by everyday human activity, dropped by as much as 50 per cent in March and April, according to the the study findings published in the journal Science.

The quiet period, which has been dubbed the “anthropause” was particularly noticeable in urban areas as vehicle traffic, cruise ships and even concerts and sports games were halted.

“Human activity is constantly driving a seismic buzz – everything from walking around, car traffic and industrial activities create unique seismic signatures in the subsurface. We noticed seismometerz all over the planet were much, much quieter as lockdown protocols rolled out,” explained Mika McKinnon, one of the study’s authors.

“Our interpretation is that the decrease in tourism, the reduction in commuting as more people work from home, and the travel restrictions all combined together limit how much seismic noise humans are generating.”

The research isn’t just a never-before-seen analysis of how human’s generate seismic noise but will also be able to help scientists better understand earthquakes, specifically how to differentiate between human-caused and natural seismic noises.

“Studying these smaller but widespread human-generated seismic noises is another tool for understanding our planet, but in this research it’s also a way to better understand people and how we’re all working together as we face this pandemic,” McKinnon said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

A true community garden takes root in Tsa’xana

Tsa’xana First Nation residents typically have to grocery shop in Campbell River, 90 km away

Vancouver Island community organizes luncheon for seniors to beat COVID-19 blues

Sayward Community Recreation Association and Mowi teamed up to deliver lunch boxes to senior citizens in Sayward

Road rage incident in downtown Campbell River results in charges

Action movie scene caught on video, which helped identify driver

North Island Hospital Campbell River’s campus has a new food forest

And the hospital staff is encouraging the community to come ‘nibble’ on the produce

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Most Read