Google earthquake and tsunami detection system

The world’s in turmoil, with the Corona Virus outbreak. Well as we wait for the vaccine trials to be carried out and approved, there is at least one problem whose solution is being found.

The Problem:

As will all know India has been witnessing medium intensity earthquakes for the past 3 to 4 months now. And a lot of damage has been done. The count has gone up to 17 earthquakes in India in just the past the 3 months with the global count going up to 7,379 in just the first 6 months of 2020. There was no better time for Google to come up with a solution.

The Solution:

Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai took to Twitter to share the news of a new earthquake-tsunami warning system being developed by Google.

In the post, Sundar Pichai said, “A recent experiment using one of our subsea fiber optic cables showed that it could be useful for earthquake and tsunami warning systems around the globe.”

He informed us that the company is carrying out experiments using sub-sea fiber optic cables which have the capability to detect earthquakes and tsunamis earlier than the contemporary technologies.

Science Behind the Solution:

According to Google, there is a vast network of optical fibers running along the ocean floor connecting continents. These are responsible for much of the internationally hosting internet’s information traffic. Google’s Global Network of Undersea Cables is responsible for sending and receiving signals at the speed of light. 

Undersea network of optical fiber cables

These signals going at 209,104 Kilometers per second are carrying pulses of light. The pulses of light encounter distortion as it flows. These distortions are corrected using digital signal processing. One of the properties of the pulsating light is SOP (State of Polarization). SOP responses to any mechanical changes along the cable and those can be detected using digital signal processing.

The CEO also informs us, “In 2013, we looked at how we might use SOP data to better understand deviations detected on a land-based terrestrial cable, but typical factors in the surrounding environment caused too much disruption to detect seismic signatures, so we didn’t pursue that project further.

At least one of our problems have found a solution and Google has shown that some Tech-Giants not only seek profit but also promote goodwill among humanity.

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