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Lockdown effect: Earthquake detection mechanism improves as noise levels decrease by 80 percent


Srinagar: Experts have reported that the earthquake detection has improved as the ambient noise levels have reduced by 80 percent due to the lockdown in Kashmir.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department, most parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, come under the Seismic Zone 5, which are highly prone to earthquakes.


Based on historical records, the region had experienced quite a few devastating earthquakes in the past. A massive earthquake struck the Jammu and Kashmir on October 8, 2005, having a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter Scale. Tremors were felt strongly in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. This earthquake resulted in more than 80,000 deaths.

Presently, there are 18 seismographs placed across Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. With a countrywide lockdown in place, earthquake detection has become better and more accurate.

Professor Department of Earth Sciences Kashmir University, Dr. Shakeel Romshoo said ambient noise generated by human activities including vehicular movement distort measurements from seismic instruments.

“The lockdown measures around the world including Kashmir due to COVID-19 scare have reduced the human-caused seismic noise by 70 -80 percent. As a result of which earthquakes of smaller magnitudes can be detected with more accuracy and specificity,” he said.

He noted that usually, the human-caused seismic noise has to be separated first in order to analyze the data properly. “However, the reduction of ambient noise has no effect on the movement of the earth’s crust. We cannot say it’s moving slowly because of the lockdown,” he said.

Deputy Director MET, Kashmir Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad said seismic activity does not get affected. “There is no increase or decrease in seismic activity. It just helps in better earthquake detection,” he said.