Yes, this is such a common sentence that the er really has no location linked to it at all (even less than in other uses of er I think). If you want to say What happens there? I would always translate that as Wat gebeurt daar?
There has two meanings, one for location - (the book is over there), and another as a sort of general subject pronoun (there's nothing happening). If there is another pronoun (what) we don't use there in the sentence (Note, this sentence isn't asking about what is happening at a particular location)
I can say - What's happening? (Wat gebeurt er?) I don't use there in this sentence, although Dutch uses it. . The answer could be "There's nothing happening" (Er is niets gebeurt) The "there" in this sentence is a general subject pronoun, used like er in the Dutch sentence. I can say What's happening there, (location). ( Wat daar gebeurt.) with an answer of There's nothing happening there, (Er is niets daar gebeurt) which shows both uses, one for the pronoun (the first),. and one for the location (the second). Dutch has two different words translating as there. (Or English has two words that look and sound the same but mean different things) Note, these are all Google translations, which may or may not be accurate.
How would one say "What is it doing" then? Would you use het, even if you don't know what "it" is?
What is the difference in the pronunciation of the vowels in "gebuert" and "buurt"? (Also I don't know phonetic notation, so that won't help me.)
No that's not correct, it would be the same as saying in English: what happens it.
"iemand het opzetten van ons de bom"
had to do that...
don't tell me it's wrong in case it is.. it's the Korean'(/-)s (translations') fault...
See Susande and others' comments at the very beginning of this discussion. By the way, the word 'here' is 'hier' in Dutch, not 'er', which was inapplicable in this question!