Global quieting of high-frequency seismic noise due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures

Science
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Abstract

Human activity causes vibrations that propagate into the ground as high-frequency seismic waves. Measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread changes in human activity, leading to a months-long reduction in seismic noise of up to 50%. The 2020 seismic noise quiet period is the longest and most prominent global anthropogenic seismic noise reduction on record. While the reduction is strongest at surface seismometers in populated areas, this seismic quiescence extends for many kilometers radially and hundreds of meters in depth. This provides an opportunity to detect subtle signals from subsurface seismic sources that would have been concealed in noisier times and to benchmark sources of anthropogenic noise. A strong correlation between seismic noise and independent measurements of human mobility suggests that seismology provides an absolute, real-time estimate of population dynamics.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Global quieting of high-frequency seismic noise due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.abd2438
Edition Online First
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher AAAS
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
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