“We can safely say that in modern seismology, we’ve never seen such a long period of human quiet.”

“We can safely say that in modern seismology, we’ve never seen such a long period of human

Curated via Twitter from MIT Technology Review’s twitter account….

Smaller earthquakes are key to being able to monitor fault lines, and they act as predictors of bigger quakes to come; scientists now have a baseline data set to work with. “We can [now] study relationships between human activity and seismology,” De Plaen says. “We can now understand with a high level of resolution what is generating noise: the earth or humans.

Lockdown presented a unique opportunity for researchers not only to control for human activity but also to hear seismic noise that otherwise gets drowned out.

De Plaen says that the Mexico-US border showed an increase in human seismic noise, even though both sides of the border were otherwise still.

It has also let scientists get an unparalleled listen to what’s happening beneath our feet. “We can safely say that in modern seismology, we’ve never seen such a long period of human quiet,” says Raphael De Plaen at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Querétaro, one of the paper’s 76 authors.

This might add to our knowledge of earthquakes, particularly small ones in urban centers that are often masked by human seismic noise.

Under normal circumstances, this human noise merges with and muffles natural seismic activity.

Lead author Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, had been writing code to better understand how to tease apart human-generated and seismic noise.

The fall-off in human noise also gave scientists a chance to listen to the earth’s inner workings more closely than ever before—without humans drowning them out.

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