Fibre-optic networks could act as earthquake observatories

Existing networks of buried fibre-optic cables have the potential to become an inexpensive observatory for monitoring and studying earthquakes, a new study has demonstrated.

The study, managed by researchers at the University of Michigan and other institutions, demonstrates that the same optical fibres that deliver high-speed internet to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors.

“Fibre-optic cables are the backbone of modern telecommunications, and we have demonstrated that we can turn existing networks into extensive seismic arrays to assess ground motions during earthquakes,” said Michigan seismologist Zack Spica, first author of a JGR Solid Earth paper describing the work.

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