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

Hamhuis hangs up his skates

The Nashville Predators defenceman and Smithereen spent 16 years in the NHL

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Cyclist dead following Hwy 16 collision with pickup

The cyclist was a 41-year-old man from Smithers

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Smithers contractor refurbishes sailboat for Northwest Passage adventure

Ron Smith, who has been working on the “Obsession” for 12 years, will put her in the water this week

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

B.C.’s fuel suppliers to publish prices to provide accountability: minister

Bruce Ralston says move will ensure industry publicly accountable for unexplained prices increases

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Missed rent payments because of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Most Read