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Google Uses Underwater Fiber-Optic Cable to Detect Earthquakes

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Underwater cables like this one are used to carry Internet traffic around the world.

A 10,000-kilometer-long fiber-optic cable at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean can be used to detect deep-sea seismic activity and ocean waves.

Credit: Christoph Burgstedt/Getty Images

A submarine fiber-optic cable owned by Google was used by researchers at the search engine giant and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to detect earthquakes and ocean waves generated by storms.

The investigators measured changes in pressure and strain using traffic data from the 10,000-kilometer (6,213-mile)-long cable on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, recording about 30 ocean storm swell events and roughly 20 quakes exceeding magnitude 5 over nine months.

Caltech's Zhongwen Zhan described this approach as more flexible and scalable than other attempts to deploy fiber-optic sensors, as new infrastructure is unnecessary.

Anthony Sladen at the University Côte d’Azur in France says the study constitutes “a major step in exploiting the benefits of existing cables.”

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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