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We humans always wanted to know if it’s possible to detect Natural disaster like Earthquakes and Tsunami and after all these years, Google CEO Sunder Pichai seems to have answer for the question.

Google is conducting a project using sub-sea fiber optic cables and the results have shown that they might be useful in for earthquake and tsunami warning systems.

In Google’s blog post, Valley Kamalov and Mattia Cantono from Google’s Global Networking Team have shared detailed plans of how it can detect earthquakes.

“Earthquakes can be detected based on spectral Signature’s and by performing a spectral analysis of Stokers’ parameters to look at the frequencies that are typical sensing applications. And most of these techniques are effective over distance range of 100 km, and further added they have developed a technique that works over tens of thousands of kilometer,”

To study these frequencies a special sensing fibres and special equipment is needed but now Google is using existing fiber to detect disturbances on the floor of oceans and thus the technique relies on equipment that is already present and it’s broadly applicable.   

Google came up with the concept in 2013 but it was only in 2019 that they were able to conduct the first experiments. Since they started, initially there was no state of polarisation (SOP) changes that could detect a quake, and since that soon changed.

This year on January 28th, Google detect an earthquake of 7.7 magnitude off the coast of Jamaica, 1,500 km away from the closet point of one of the cables for the first time. Google further writes in its blog  that the plot of SOP showed a pronounced spike at a time stamp approximately five minutes after the earthquake occurred. This correlated to the time the seismic wave needed to travel from Jamaica to the cable and thus the duration of the spike was about 10 minutes.

Since then, Google was able to detect two moderate-sized earthquakes in Chile and Mexico on March 28 and March 22 respectively.

Google calls this “just the beginning” of being able to study and detect seismic events. And further stated in their blog that, they are planning to keep working to develop a robust earthquake monitoring system that researchers can use in tandem with Google’s advanced computing systems.

 Detailed information can be read in Google blog here


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