Submarine Cables Could be Repurposed as Earthquake Detectors

In a paper published in Science, Giuseppe Marra, of Britain’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL), proposes to shine a little light into the oceans by co-opting infrastructure built for an entirely different purpose. From a report: Dr Marra and his colleagues hope to use the planet’s 1m-kilometre network of undersea fibre-optic cables, which carry the internet from continent to continent (see map), as a giant submarine sensor. Dr Marra is particularly interested in earthquakes. The dry bits of the planet are well-stocked with seismographs. The oceans are much less well covered, with only a handful of permanent sensors on the sea floor. This means that many small earthquakes go unrecorded because the vibrations they cause are too mild to be picked up by distant land-based sensors. The genesis of the idea is a good example of the way in which advances in one field of science can lead to new developments in other, apparently unrelated fields.

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