At a time when India is witnessing small-medium intensity earthquakes in many states, to think how to detect earthquakes early becomes the question.
At a time when India is witnessing small-medium intensity earthquakes in many states, to think how to detect earthquakes early becomes the question. Well, Google has come up with an answer. Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter and informed that the company has carried out an experiment using subsea fiber optic cables which is capable of detecting earthquakes and tsunamis early and be used as a warning system.
What exactly is this technique?
It is to note that optical fibres are mainly used for sensing applications and usually the areas they are used in cover a distance of up to 100 km. Google has developed a technique that would work over tens of thousands of kilometers. The company said it is using existing fiber to detect disturbances on the seafloor. “Better yet, our technique relies on equipment that is present on the vast majority of the world’s existing fiber optic systems, so it is broadly applicable,” the company said in a blog post.
The company said that fiber optic cables are able to connect far-flung continents to the ocean floor, where most internet’s international traffic too travels over these cables. “Google’s global network of undersea cables makes it possible to share, search, send, and receive information around the world at the speed of light,” it added.
Is it possible to detect earthquakes with submarine cables? We think it might be.https://t.co/6oIZTxg1wk
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) July 16, 2020
The cables are made of optical fibres which are capable of carrying data in the form of pulsing light traveling at 204,190 kilometers per second. As the pulsing light can travel thousands of kilometers across the cable, it encounters distortions. The receiving end detects these light pulses and a digital signal processor is used to correct distortions. To be sure, the light has a property that when tracked as the part of optical transmission, it is in the state of polarization (SOP). “The SOP changes in response to mechanical disturbances along the cable and tracking these disturbances enables us to detect seismic activity,” the company explained.
While the company started the project in 2013, the experiment took place in 2019 and since then, it has been able to detect some earthquakes of moderate intensity in Mexico and Chile. The technology can surely be used in India which is experiencing many mild earthquakes for about three-four months now.