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DIAS seismologists detect change in “human-made seismic noise”

Graph used aspart of CMO Briefing 23 April 2020
Update: 23 April 2020
The observation on seismic noise provided to the NPHET as part of a body of information that they are using to try to manage the crisis.

Further information can be accessed on the INSN homepage


Wednesday 8th April 2020

DIAS seismologists detect change in “human-made seismic noise” across Ireland due to Covid-19 lockdown

Data from Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies illustrates the impact of public health restrictions on human activity

Seismologists at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) have released data today (08.04.20), illustrating the dramatic decrease in human activity as a result of Covid-19 lockdown measures. 

The Geophysics Section in DIAS operates the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN), with support from the Geological Survey Ireland.  Instruments used by the INSN track ‘seismic noise’ – human-made ground vibrations – as well as ground motions from natural phenomena, such as earthquakes and volcanoes. 

According to the data released by DIAS today, levels of seismic noise are up to three times lower now than they were before the lockdown

Commenting today, Dr. Martin Möllhoff, Director of Seismic Networks at DIAS, said: “Our day-to-day lives result in small ground movements – for example, by cars, trains, building sites and other industries. These human-induced vibrations, called seismic noise by seismologists, vary with the human activity. 

“Worldwide social restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic affect not only levels of air pollution, but also how much the ground beneath our feet vibrates. 

“With the current Covid-19 restrictions on human movement, INSN seismic noise levels have been markedly reduced.  In Ireland, seismic noise levels are now up to three times lower than they were before the restrictions were introduced.”

Professor Chris Bean, Head of the Geophysics Section and Director of the School of Cosmic Physics at DIAS, said: “Such lowered seismic noise levels can enhance the capability of a seismic network to detect small earthquakes and are testament to the high levels of compliance with Covid-19 movement restrictions.”

The findings released by DIAS today mirror findings from seismologists across the world, who have been tracking how Covid-19 restrictions have impacted on levels of seismic noise.

Further information is available at www.dias.ie and www.insn.ie.