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Earth Science

Turning the Optical Fiber Network Into a Giant Earthquake Sensor (ieee.org) 15

Tekla Perry writes: Researchers at Stanford have demonstrated that they can use ordinary, underground fiber optic cables to monitor for earthquakes, by using innate impurities in the fiber as virtual sensors. "People didn't believe this would work," said one of the researchers. "They always assumed that an uncoupled optical fiber would generate too much signal noise to be useful." They plan a larger test installation in 2018. Their biggest challenge, they say, will not be perfecting the algorithms but rather convincing telcos to allow the technology to piggyback on existing telecommunications lines. Meanwhile, the same data is being used for an art project that visualizes the activity of pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and fountains on the surface above the cables.
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Turning the Optical Fiber Network Into a Giant Earthquake Sensor

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  • If its a giant earthquake I'm sure its been detected by other means.
    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Like this?

      https://newatlas.com/laptop-ac... [newatlas.com] ...but I think the point here, if you RTFA, is that a fiber constitutes about one sensor every meter, so you get a whole lot of resolution for some pretty damn inexpensive spare glass, and this will allow scientific study of wave propagation at a greater level of detail than ever before possible.

  • Meanwhile, the same data is being used for an art project that visualizes the activity of pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and fountains on the surface above the cables.

    It's probably already being used for surveillance.

    • by fazig ( 2909523 )
      It certainly can be used that way. We've had a very similar project in the lab I'm working in. Fibre-optics embedded in roads and bridges using Bragg gratings to measure the magnitude by which the fibre is stretched or clinched in all three dimensions. Of course this also means that it can be used as a microphone to some degree and also as a thermometer. The principle is sound and at least in this configuration offers some accuracy.
    • Yeah... Ivan already tell this is going to be another one of those things I'm not going to want to think about. Same as Facebook, the NSA, and whatever hotdogs are made of.
  • Their biggest challenge, they say, will not be perfecting the algorithms but rather convincing telcos to allow the technology to piggyback on existing telecommunications lines.

    Telecoms will suddenly become very interested if government agencies responsible for emergency response or geological surveys showed up with cash in hand.

    Or the FCC could mandate it. We already give the telcos in this country enough.

  • Really? _too_much_ signal and not enough noise is a problem?

    Who is it that thinks that?

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