Earth quietest in decades as COVID-19 pauses human activity; Seismologists

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Researchers working on an international study have reported that Planet Earth was the quietest in 2020 as the COVID-19 induced lockdown brought the world to a standstill. 

The planet’s ambient noise which is majorly influenced by human activity and its impact on the earth’s crust reportedly dropped up to 50 percent due to the pandemic. Seismologists across 33 countries recorded lower noise levels at 185 of the 268 seismic stations analyzed around the world.

Earth’s silence during the period was comparatively lower than the Chritmas period, the usual quietest time of the year. Speaking about the rare phenomenon, seismologist John Clinton observed that “weeks during lockdown were the quietest period we have on record”, comparing the current ambient noise levels to data archives covering the last 20 years.

Sharing his opinion on the likelihood of something similar happening in the future, Dr. Clinton stated that “With human noise always increasing, it is highly likely that it was the quietest period for a very long time.”

Earth’s Murmurs 

With all forms of travel and industrial production halted, researchers across the globe gained the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record even the faintest of rumbles from the earth’s crust. Smaller earthquakes that otherwise would not be observed were detected across the globe.

Speaking about the opportunity, scientist Dr. Frederick Massin stated that smaller tremours which are often left unheard and unrecorded due to the high ambient noise of the earth, not only allow us to improve our understanding of the seismic hazard but also enable us to study the region for the probability of larger earthquakes in the future.

“This was an unprecedented opportunity. There’s no way we would normally be able to do this kind of experiment,” Dr. Massin remarked.

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