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Under the sea, there are no early-warning seismic detection stations. Fiber-optic cables that constitute a global undersea telecommunications network could one day help in studying offshore earthquakes as well as the geologic structures hidden deep beneath the ocean surface.
A new study on the frontier of seismology constitutes the first time anyone has used offshore fiber-optic cables for looking at these types of oceanographic signals or for imaging fault structures.
Researchers describe an experiment that turned 20 kilometers of undersea fiber-optic cable into the equivalent of 10,000 seismic stations along the ocean floor. The research team comes from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and Rice University.
During their experiment in Monterey Bay, they recorded a 3.5 magnitude quake and seismic scattering from underwater fault zones, according to
Their technique, which they had previously tested with fiber-optic cables on land, could provide much-needed data on quakes that occur under the sea, where few seismic stations exist, leaving 70 percent of Earth’s surface without earthquake detectors.
The research was published in the journal Science.