Global ground vibrations, generated by human activities such as air and road traffic and industrial work, dropped by an average of 50% between March and May 2020, scientists have found.
Researchers say the “drastic” drop in seismic background noise, brought on by Covid-19 lockdown measures implemented by many countries around the world, represents the “longest and most prominent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history”.
This months-long reduction in global seismic noise gave geoscientists an opportunity to spot natural events such as small earthquakes that may have otherwise remained undetected, especially during daytime when there is more human activity.
The researchers believe their findings, published in the journal Science, could help scientists find ways to predict upcoming natural disasters.
Dr Thomas Lecocq, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium and lead author on the study, said: “With increasing urbanisation and growing global populations, more people will be living in geologically hazardous areas.