As coronavirus lockups calm Earth, earthquake scientists have new vision


With much of the world closed due to the new coronavirus pandemic, scientists studying earthquakes are getting a rare window on Earth.

“With COVID and the people who stay at home, the amount of traffic, the amount of trains, helicopters, it all really went down,” said John Cassidy, seismologist and seismologist at Natural Resources Canada and the University of Victoria.

“What we are seeing is that, especially in urban areas, what we call” background noise “has dropped dramatically. “

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This reduction in background noise means that the incredibly sensitive instruments that scientists use to measure earthquakes, known as seismographs, are capable of recording extremely weak earthquakes that would have been missed before.

6.5 magnitude Idaho earthquake felt by British Columbia residents

6.5 magnitude Idaho earthquake felt by British Columbia residents

Cassidy said that in some cases, seismographs are now able to record tiny tremors of negative magnitude.

In some densely populated regions of the world, where isolation from seismographs from urban centers is more difficult, such as Europe, Cassidy said that “seismic noise” had dropped by almost 50%.

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He said that the closest to the world usually reaches this level of seismic silence during the long holidays, like Christmas.

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The difference is less in British Columbia, he said, because many of our seismic equipment is positioned on top of mountains or away from highways.

4 volcanoes near Vancouver “very high threat”, but experts say there is no need to

However, he said that increased sensitivity was particularly valuable in British Columbia. for another reason: it allows a more in-depth study of volcanic activity.

BEFORE CHRIST. is based on what is known as the Ring of Fire, a belt of volcanic activity that circles the Pacific Ocean and is driven by plate tectonics.

“Very small earthquakes can tell you something about future volcanic eruptions because magma is moving deep in the earth, as we saw on Mount St. Helens about 40 years ago,” said Cassidy .

He said the increased sensitivity could also open the door to new research projects, as scientists observe a phenomenon they have missed in the past due to background noise.

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