The Earth hardly moved in lockdown as the fall in human activity meant its vibrations halved

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THE Earth hardly moved in lockdown — as the fall in human activity meant its vibrations halved.

Scientists say social distancing plus less in­dustry and travel made the planet far quieter.

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They found major falls in noise levels at 185 out of 268 seismic stations based in 117 countries. The largest falls were in densely-populated areas such as New York and Singapore.

Barbados, where lockdown coincided with the tourist season, saw a 50 per cent decrease.

Seismic noise has risen for decades as populations and economies have grown. 

But the Covid pandemic has brought the din from trains, cars and machinery down to levels normally seen only at Christmas.

The changes also allowed researchers to listen to previously-hidden signals from earthquakes and volcanoes that might warn of upcoming natural disasters. 

Dr Thomas Lecocq said: “Growing global populations mean more people will be living in geologically hazardous areas. 

“It will become more important than ever to differentiate between natural and human noise.”

Dr Stephen Hicks, of London’s Imperial College, added: “This is likely the largest dampening of human-caused noise since we started monitoring using seismometers.

“We hope it will spawn new studies that help us listen better to the Earth.” 

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