The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on countries around the world, causing a global health crisis while forcing economies to shut down in the face of strict quarantine measures. But the outbreak is also having an intriguing impact on Earth’s environment, as nations restrict the movement of people.
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.