Earthquake: When the lock caused by coronavirus struck earlier in the year, the Anthropocene allowed “Anthropause.” The term refers to the sudden silence that has overcome the most often noisy planet. While the holiday meant that many lives had been taken and their lives were in danger, it brought extraordinary and precious relief to others. Wildlife thrived, and scientists have been able to listen more closely to the songs of birds and whales than in decades.
Andropause also allowed scientists to compile data on unprecedented work on earthquakes. With flights reduced, cars stopped, trains stopped, cruise ships suspended, and concerts canceled, it is estimated that man-made vibrations were reduced by 50 percent between March and May 2020.
Earthquake: Scientists at Belgium’s Royal Observatory and five other institutions around the world recently published a study in the journal “Science” that revealed how this closure reduces seismic activity. They found that massive reductions were taking place in densely populated areas such as; cities such as New York City and Singapore. But the effects were also felt in remote areas, such as the shaft of a discarded mine in Germany which is considered one of the quietest places on Earth and in Namibia.
Using data collected from 268 seismic stations in 117 countries, scientists have observed a dramatic reduction in seismic noise in 185 of those channels. The data show a “wave of peace” followed worldwide, from China in late January; through Italy and throughout Europe, and on to North America as per the closure order.
Dr. Stephen Hicks, a professor at Imperial College of the London Department of Science and Engineering, said in a press release:
“This peaceful time is probably the longest and most dramatic reduction of man-made earthquakes. Since we began surveying the earth in detail using large seismometers monitoring networks; which separates the sound of man from nature. “
This is a blessing in disguise for earthquakes. Scientists will be able to take in earthquake data collected during closure and use it to distinguish between human and terrestrial sounds. The Star quoted Professor Mika McKinnon of the University of British Columbia; who is one of the authors of the study:
“We are getting a better understanding of what these man-made waves are; which will make it easier in the future for us to re-filter them.”
As human noise increases, due to the increase in cities and population growth; it is becoming increasingly difficult to hear what is happening underground. And, of course, this information is essential for creating vibrant “fingerprints”; in order to maintain a record of what a particular line of error tends to do; – and how it can scare people over the surface. Dr. Hicks explains.
“It’s important to see those small signs because they tell you that a geological error; for example, puts pressure on a small earthquake; or when it’s quiet and the pressure increases over a long period of time. It tells you that the error behaves.”More
Scientists say the new data does not mean that they will be able to predict earthquakes with greater accuracy. But it does provide greater data entry in the field of competition that strives to compete with human noise. In McKinnon’s words, “It gives scientists a deeper understanding of planetary earthquakes and volcanic activity,” and Dr. Hicks says that; “it could create new studies that help us better listen to the Earth and understand the natural signals we might have missed.”
Knowing the destruction that can be caused by earthquakes, the more information we have, the better we can all be. It is gratifying to know that the challenges of confinement had silver linings for some. That those will one day – perhaps – help us survive an earthquake.