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The Next Wave in Tsunami Detection

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This technical note provides a summary of a uniquely designed tsunami early warning system consisting of an ocean bottom seismometer, an accelerometer, a differential pressure gauge, and a bottom pressure recorder. The system has advantages over other tsunameters currently in use because it receives power and reports data continuously, via fiber-optic cable, allowing for the maximum amount of lead time between receipt and analysis of data; warnings may then be issued earlier, resulting in additional time to evacuate vulnerable areas. The system was developed in a collaborative effort between Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Lighthouse R & D Enterprises, Inc., during 2006 and installed in 2007 off the northern coast of Oman on an extended portion of a preexisting physical oceanographic cabled monitoring system. The goal was to produce a system capable of determining the magnitude and mechanism of earthquakes—even very large, local ones—and of sensing the large-wavelength, low-amplitude waves characteristic of tsunamis in the open ocean. Since 2009, the system has been recognized by the International Tsunameter Partnership (commissioned by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as operational, but it has yet to be integrated with national or regional warning centers. A numerical modeling suite was developed to estimate tsunami impact at any given location along the Omani coast and is intended to function as a complementary tool for analysis of the real-time data. Real-time data receipt combined with accurate analysis will lead to earlier and more reliable warnings that may help save additional lives.
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Keywords: early warning systems; marine instrumentation; real-time information; tsunami

Document Type: Technical Note

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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