Monitoring seismic activity all around the world is an important task, however one which requires gear to be on the site it’s measuring — troublesome in the midst of the ocean. However, new analysis from Berkeley might turn present undersea fiber optic cables right into a network of seismographs, creating a unique global view of the Earth’s tectonic movements.
Seismologists get virtually all their knowledge from devices on land, which suggests most of our information about seismic exercise is restricted to the 3rd of the planet’s surface. We don’t even know the place; all of the faults are since there’s been no exhaustive research or long-term monitoring of the ocean floor.
These cables carry information over long distances, typically as a part of the web’s backbones, and typically as a part of private networks. However, one factor all of them have in widespread is that they use light to take action — light that will get scattered and distorted if the cable shifts or adjustments orientation.
By carefully monitoring this “backscatter” phenomenon, it may be seen precisely the place the cable bends and to what extent — generally to within a couple of nanometers. That signifies that researchers can observe a cable to search out the supply of seismic exercise with a rare level of precision.
If profitable, the bigger energetic cables could possibly be pressed into service as research instruments and will help illuminate the blind spot that seismologists have so far as the activity and options of the ocean floor. The group’s work is published today in the journal Science.