Seismologists from the US have created a fiber optic technology based on existing fiber optic cables for the monitoring of natural disasters, for example, earthquakes or tsunami. Herewith, there is no need for additional systems or devices. The operating principle of fiber cables is based on the light that goes through optical fibers to detect earthquakes and ocean waves, transforming the fibers into geophysical sensors.
It should be noted that the development of these optical fibers uses previous researches about seismicity monitoring by “dark” fibers. Additionally, the seismologists apply not only fiber optic systems. It is advantageous to apply existing optical fibers to sense seismicity (the occurrence/frequency of tsunami in a region) because the largest part of Earth is covered by water.
It should be noted that the installation and monitoring by submerged fiber optic cables are regarded as an expensive and complex process, although “they serve as a backbone of international communication.” As for the new fiber optic technology, seismologists use fiber lasers that emit laser beam pulses of data through optical fibers installed within host fiber cables.
The underwater optical fibers have been already tested by scientists. They control the polarization of the laser beam that passes through the optical fibers by directing the electric field to enable numerous signals to go through the same fiber optic cable at once. Also, scientists monitor the polarization state of each signal at the receiving end of the fiber optic system to understand how it transformed along the fiber cable.
Thus, the system demonstrates that these signals do not mix. Nevertheless, land-based optical fibers depend on such parameters as changes in temperature and weather, while underwater fibers are not affected by the environment. Test results of underwater fiber cables demonstrate stable polarization change at the end of cables, however, earthquakes and tsunami lead to a sudden and essential change in the polarization parameter caused by huge ocean waves.
To be more precise, this fiber optic system allows for predicting natural disasters by sending a warning to a potentially-affected area in real-time. Compared to underwater optical fibers, land-based counterparts require more time to detect natural disasters (several minutes for earthquakes and even longer for tsunami).
Even though fiber optic technology demonstrates great results in wave detection, it still requires some improvements to be made. The seismologists plan to create a machine learning algorithm for fiber optic cables to distinguish whether earthquakes or ocean waves caused the polarization changes. Moreover, they want to make the whole detection and notification process automatic to obtain additional data necessary for further researches.
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