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Israeli study shows fiber optics can detect earthquake signs early

Illustrative - People look at the destruction as rescuers search for survivors in the rubble following an earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

An Israeli study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports shows that fiber optics can detect early signs of an earthquake. 

Dr. Itzhak Lior and his team, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences, conducted the study. 

The discovery is especially significant for earthquakes that occur in the seafloor, as such earthquakes are not usually detected until tens of seconds after they occur. Some of the most devastating earthquakes begin at sea. 

“Earthquakes that occur in the seafloor or in areas without sensors can result in late detection by existing technologies, which hinders preparedness,” said Lior. “Recently, an innovative method of monitoring earthquakes using fiber optics, including those deployed worldwide for Internet communication, has been widely developed.” 

The new method could give early warning about earthquakes up to half a minute sooner than standard methods, which could be critical to saving human lives.  

“We have shown that fiber optics can be used in place of traditional sensors to provide early warning, especially for earthquakes that occur at sea. Optical fibers, including those from commercial telecommunications companies, can determine earthquake intensity and damage potential very quickly, adding critical warning seconds for destructive earthquakes,” Lior said. “The use of communication fibers from commercial companies is a very important advantage for earthquake-prone regions such as Chile, Japan, the west coast of North America, and also Israel.”

The study comes just as massive earthquakes devastated areas of Syria and Turkey on Monday. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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