The seafloor cables that ferry internet traffic across oceans could be used to collect data
G. Marra et al/Science 2018
The global network of seafloor cables may be good for more than ferrying digital communication between continents. These fiber-optic cables could also serve as underwater earthquake detectors, researchers report online June 14 in Science.
“It’s a very exciting proposition,” says Barbara Romanowicz, a seismologist at the University of California, Berkeley and the Collège de France in Paris.
Almost all seismic stations around the world are based on land, leaving many oceanic earthquakes undetected. Harnessing the million-plus kilometers of underwater fiber-optic cables to monitor seafloor earthquakes would be “a great step forward” for studying Earth’s interior, Romanowicz says.
What’s more, quake-detecting cables could bolster tsunami alert systems. “The more [seismic] stations feeding into a tsunami warning system, the faster it