Google’s 10,000-kilometer fiber-optic cable at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean can be used to detect deep-sea seismic activity and dead ocean waves.
Zhongwen Zhan, a specialist and staff at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, including Google researchers, used traffic data from one of the technology giants ’optical cable to measure changes in cable pressure and voltage. Using these data, they were able to detect earthquakes and storm-generated ocean deadlocks.
During the nine-month test period, the team recorded approximately 30 ocean deadlift events and approximately 20 earthquakes on a Richter scale of 5. strength, which is already strong enough to cause damage to infrastructure, including the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that erupted in June 2020 near Oaxaca, Mexico. The system could not be tested for a tsunami because no such event occurred during the observation.
Deep-sea placement and maintenance of geophysical instruments is difficult and costly, so underwater seismic stations are relatively rare, so this research “a major step in reaping the benefits of existing cables.”
Efforts have been made in the past to use fiber optic cables as seismic sensors, but these would have required special laser sensing equipment at both ends of the cable or dedicated fibers in the cables. . However, such fibers are missing from deep-sea cables.
According to Zhan, his team’s approach to using existing cable for the task allows for more flexible and scalable forecasting as no new infrastructure is required. “This is extremely promising, as even if only a fraction of a million kilometers of fiber-optic networks installed on the seabed could be used as sensors, a significant improvement in the amount and coverage of seismic data could be achieved.”
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