In a world of ever more ubiquitous wireless internet, it’s easy to forget that our ability to get online continues to rely on the laying of miles of fiber-optic cables not just on land but also along the ocean floor. Could these same cables also be used to help detect earthquakes and look at other earth science issues? A new project carried out by researchers at Rice University, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute suggests they could. In a four-day demonstration, the researchers showed how it was possible to repurpose a 32-mile-long cable, which carries data back and forth in California’s Monterey Bay, to act as a seismology instrument. “We used a fiber-optic sensing technique to transform a seafloor telecommunications cable, commonly used to connect an offshore science node to land, into a dense seismic array spanning the continental shelf offshore Northern California,” Nate Lindsey, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, told Digital Trends. “By using this array to record a local earthquake, we were able to observe a pattern of scattering in the seismic wavefield that is consistent with the presence of multiple seafloor faults, some of which lined up… Read full this story
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