Coronavirus ripple effects are changing the Earth’s movement
The Royal Observatory of Belgium has taken note of seismic activity across the globe as people stay home and the world’s transportation systems slow and shut down. And they’re saying the lack of vibrations from that movement are giving them clearer insight into other natural disasters.
Specifically, the lack of background noise from cars, trucks, and industrial machinery is letting seismologists better detect smaller earthquakes and more closely monitor volcanic activity. Vibrations caused by human activity in Belgium have fallen by about one-third since lockdown orders were implemented. That’s being replicated in other parts of the world, though not all areas will see such a precipitous decline.
Ultimately, say scientists, that could make it easier to detect the location of earthquake aftershocks and determine levels of volcanic activity.
The drop is also being experienced in both London and Los Angeles. One geophysics graduate student referred to it as “seriously wild.”
Micro earthquakes occur frequently throughout the planet, but are sometimes harder to track because of the background noise from human activity. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program, a division of the Department of the Interior, notes that in Yellowstone alone there are approximately 2,000 quakes per year.
More must-read energy sector coverage from Fortune:
—The oil sector is quickly running out of storage for its unprecedented surplus
—The great African air conditioning boom is about to begin—and it could strain the planet
—The coronavirus fight could prove fatal to addressing climate change
—Business is finally starting to reckon with climate change
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEOs
—WATCH: PSEG CEO on climate change action: “It should have been done yesterday”
Subscribe to The Loop, a weekly look at the revolutions in energy, tech, and sustainability.