Worldwide Covid-19 Lockdown Reduced Earth's Vibration - Seeker's Thoughts

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Worldwide Covid-19 Lockdown Reduced Earth's Vibration

The day to day hustle-and-bustle of human activities including road and rail transport, construction, land drill, exert substantial pressure on Earth’s crust. 

Presently, crowded cities and streets are empty around the world. Highway traffic has slowed to a minimum. And fewer and fewer people can be seen outside.

To break the chain of novel deadly coronavirus, lockdown measures are in place across most parts of the world over the past few weeks – resulting in a drastic drop in such activities.

The lockdown has triggered immeasurable economic loss and has been devastating for millions of people. However, amidst all the chaos, planet Earth seems to have got some time to rejuvenate itself.

A drastic decrease in air pollution levels has been observed in several regions around the world, and rare wild animals are being spotted roaming freely around human settlements.

Seismologists from around the world are observing less ambient seismic noise – meaning, the vibrations generated by cars, trains, buses and people going about their daily lives. And in the absence of that noise Earth’s upper crust is moving just a little less.

Thomas Lecocq, a geologist, and seismologist at the royal observatory in Belgium, first pointed out this phenomenon in Brussels.
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Brussels is seeing about 30% to 50% reduction in vibration seismic noise since mid-march. Usually, to measure the accurate seismic sound, Geoscientists use a detector buried 100 meters beneath the Earth’s surface. But, now the natural vibrations can be studied easily through the surface seismic readings as well.

A seismograph station located near Milan in Lombardy, one of the Italian provinces most severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, shows how traffic in the Po Plain, one of the most important agricultural and industrial areas of Italy, dropped after lockdown measures became effective in march, shows how the seismic noise dropped significantly during the daytime.

Earth’s natural vibrations play a vital role in studying the planet’s crust and other seismic activities. Detecting small earthquakes, and monitoring volcanic activity.

Geologists have also observed trends of a drop in seismic vibrations in Paris, London Los Angeles, and Auckland due to ongoing lockdown.

What is seismic noise?

In geology, seismic noise refers to the relatively persistent vibration of the ground due to a multitude of causes. It is the unwanted component of signals recorded by a seismometer – the scientific instrument that records ground motions, such as those caused by earthquakes volcanic eruptions, and explosions.

This noise includes vibrations caused due to human activity, such as transport and manufacturing, and makes it difficult for scientists to study seismic data that is more valuable Apart from geology, seismic noise is also studied in other fields such as oil exploration, hydrology, and earthquake engineering.

According to Andy Frassetto, if lockdowns continue in the coming months, city-based detectors around the world might be better than usual at detecting the locations of earthquake aftershocks.

Less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information out of those events.

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The fall in noise could also benefit seismologists who use naturally occurring background vibrations, such as those from crashing ocean waves, to probe Earth’s crust. Because volcanic activity and changing water tables affect how fast these natural waves travel, scientists can study these events by monitoring how long it takes a wave to reach a given detector.

A fall in human-induced noise could boost the sensitivity of detectors to natural waves at similar frequencies. There’s a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements.

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