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Taiwan to Commission First Seabed Quake and Tsunami Sensor

The residents of Taiwan would soon be getting earthquake or tsunami warnings with enough time to evacuate their buildings, thanks to the Seabed Sensor that is to be installed shortly.

This Seabed Sensor is capable of sensing the undersea seismic activities that foretell earthquakes and Tsunamis. This announcement came on Monday, shortly after the quake, one of the biggest in history that had battered Japan.

Taiwan in the past has had very bitter encounters with quakes, the worst one was in 1999 claiming 2400 lives and causing injuries to over 11,000.This Island is susceptible to offshore quakes and has been working on such a sensor design for years. It is an established fact that majority of the quakes that rock the land originate at sea.

Technicians at the Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau have given a brief insight into how the system operates. The Sensor is placed at a depth of 300 metres in the ocean. This is the ideal depth for effectively picking up any irregular movements in the water or any significant changes in the water temperature, which may be a hint of an impending quake or tsunami. A connecting cable 45 kilometres long connects the Sensor to the computers placed on the land. The computers process the data and relay the signal to the weather bureau’s data center.Any other early detection signals received from other sources are processed along with the one got from the Seabed sensor. If the earthquake or a tsunami signal is received , the mobile phone service providers are immediately instructed to send warning text messages to all the users.

The extra time gained through this Seabed sensor averages to 10 secs as it is closest to the point where the quake originates. In the case of a tsunami it gives several minutes of extra warning time for the people of Taiwan to get to safety before a quake or tsunami strikes.

The bid to design the system was clinched by NEC, the estimated cost of building the system was NT$420 million (US$14.23 million).

A weather bureau official commented that Taiwan had plans of deploying more such seabed sensors based on the budgets that are granted for these projects. Japan and the U.S.A have advanced land based quake sensors. Taiwan officials have plans of testing such advanced sensors as well in future, thereby moving closer to providing timely quake warnings and safeguarding many lives.



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