Geoscientist Nate Lindsey fired a series of laser pulses through a fiber-optic cable on Monterey Bay for a different reason. The cable extended to the ocean floor and existed for a decade. Primarily, the wire used to transmit data to the instrument placed on the ocean floor. The cable, having a length in miles, also used for receiving data from the device, place in the ocean, to the land-based scientific center.
Nate Lindsey and his team disconnected the cable from all the devices and used it to sense the vibration level on the seafloor. They monitored the light beaming and bouncing phenomena through the fiber. The new approach help Nate and his team to discover the existence of an underwater fault present in 5 miles away from the coastline. After the discovery, now it is clear that the technique can further be used to detect the swaths under the seafloor using dark fiber. These dark fibers generally installed by various telecom industry players but rarely us it.
Philippe Jousset, a geoscientist at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, states that the work marks the first instance when the approach implemented under the ocean. Philippe Jousset credited for using the fiber to recognize volcanic events and earthquakes on the land floor.
The Future Perspectives of the Discovery
Distributed acoustic sensing is the commonly used method to monitor the seafloor. On the other hand, underwater seismometers are relatively costly and limited to only a single place. Generally, the underwater seismometer costs 1,00,000 USD per piece, and can only be used for a single location at a time.
Nate Lindsey claimed that a fiber-optic cable having a length of 12 miles is equivalent to around 10,000 conventional underwater seismometers. As a result, the unused dark fibers are instrumental for mapping the unmapped ocean floor. The development is not new at all, as previously, Jousset collaborated with multiple telecoms farms to measure land-based seismic activities.