How one of Google’s massive undersea cables detects earthquakes

How one of Google’s massive undersea cables detects earthquakes


An operator works during the mooring of an undersea fiber optic cable at Arrietara beach near the Spanish Basque village of Sopelana on June 13, 2017. | Photo by Ander Gillenea / AFP via Getty Images

The web of undersea cables that transmit data around the world could one day be used to track earthquakes and tsunamis, according to new research. During a test run last year, one of Google’s fiber-optic cables was able to successfully pick up on nearby earthquakes by detecting distortions in light pulses sent along the cable. It’s a new approach to an idea that researchers have been working on for the past several years.

“Can we find a less expensive way to cover the ocean with geophysical sensors? There’s already this telecommunication cable infrastructure out there. If you can turn them into sensors, that’s wonderful — and that’s what we’re doing now,” says…

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