One set of researchers discovered a set of previously unknown underwater geological faults off the coast of California through an experiment with fiber optic cables installed in the area. Throughout their analysis, scientists at the University of California and Rice, Texas, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) were able to record a magnitude 3.5 earthquake on the Richter scale.
According to the study published by the authors in the science journal Science, the scientists transformed 20 kilometers of unused cable into the equivalent of 10,000 seismic stations. The method used made use of distributed acoustic detection sensors, which send pulsed lasers in order to find density variations in fiber optic wires, to obtain more information about underwater topography.
According to Nate Lindsey, one of the study's authors, cited in University of California statement, the domain of seismology that studies the phenomena of the seabed has a noticeable difficulty in obtaining data, since there are very few subsea seismic stations. The new method could then allow for further study in the area while reusing infrastructures that are no longer in use.
Although still in the testing phase, the method could also help scientists determine the tectonic structure of heavily seismic underwater zones to prevent possible future incidents. The research team hopes to continue to advance along the fiber optic cables in the area as they believe that refining the developed method could lead to further scientific discoveries.