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

Lake Trail students plan special project for Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day recognizes Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools

VIJHL season could start Oct. 1, says league president

League awaiting final approval from local health authorities and viaSport

Weather warning issued for the Comox Valley

Series of storms to hit the east coast of Vancouver Island this week

Police reminding drivers about school zones, passing buses

“There is no excuse - everyone should know the kids are back to school.”

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

AAP deadline set for Courtenay bridge construction

Courtenay council has approved a Nov. 16 deadline for responses for an… Continue reading

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read