How Google’s huge submarine cables detect earthquakes before they happen?


Nobody managed Optical fiber cables Which transmits data around the world belonging to a company The Google During a test run last year, it successfully captured nearby earthquake signals by detecting distortions in light pulses transmitted along the cable, which could one day be used to track earthquakes and their accompanying tsunamis around the world.

What are the details?

According to the Arab Portal for Technology News, a recent study revealed that a network of submarine cables that transmit data around the world could one day be used to track earthquakes and tsunamis, by converting these cables into geophysical sensors, which is a less expensive method than other methods, according to (Zhongwen). Zhan), associate professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology and team leader for the study that was published in Science last Friday.

According to the study; On top of their main mission of sending data to all parts of the world, these cables can send early warnings to people on the beach when tsunamis make their way to them, as these cables can give seismologists and geophysicists a closer look at earthquakes that are occurring underwater.

And given that all the sensors currently used to detect earthquakes are located above the ground, these cables can help scientists monitor seismic activity as the new approach does not even require the installation of any new equipment on the existing network that extends more than a million kilometers of optical fiber cables at the bottom. Seas and oceans around the world.

The new approach takes advantage of what the cables are already designed for. When a transmitter at one end of the cable sends an optical signal to transmit data, these light waves are directed in a specific direction, and then in the event of an earthquake in an area, the cable may vibrate, bend, or twist and this It will change the direction of the light waves, while at the other end of the cable Google notices and corrects distortions.

And now with Google sharing this data – the distortions in the cable – this matter can help scientists so that they can study earthquakes that caused the distortions, or the so-called state of polarization, and this is what the research team found recently using this approach. After cooperating with Google.

During the period from December 2019 to September 2020; Professor Zhongwen Zhan’s research team documented nearly 20 medium to large earthquakes using a 10500 km submarine cable extending from Los Angeles to Valparaiso in Chile. In addition, the cable was able to capture long waves in the ocean due to storms, This indicates that this technology can also be used to detect high tidal waves that earthquakes can cause.

Google wrote in its blog: “This new approach could enable the ability to see tsunamis while they are still offshore and then save lives. In addition to better seeing the ocean with a few sensors in place specifically designed to search for tsunamis, cables can Optical fibers also send warnings to the beach faster, possibly within a few milliseconds.

It is worth noting that in 2018, similar research was published that showed that data transmission cables on the sea floor have the ability to detect earthquakes and tsunamis, but this approach came with some limitations, as the cables need to be equipped with specialized equipment to fire laser beams through the cable.

This poses a problem, as adding more equipment to the cables could open the door to security breaches, allowing hackers to access data sent over the network, unlike this new approach that saves money in addition to that scientists cannot see information about the transferred content when studying Condition (light polarization).


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