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How one of Google’s massive undersea cables detects earthquakes

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GettyImages_695501024.0.jpg 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?

“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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