Earthquakes: Afghanistan, new alarm systems and the Pontus plate

SLB scientists are transforming a disused fibre-optic telecommunications cable lying on the ocean floor into part of the EEW, an earthquake early warning system. They use an undersea telecommunications cable between the US and Chile and check seismic data using the Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technique, which uses tiny, internal defects in the optical fibre as thousands of seismic sensors. Thanks to the simulation, it is already known that the alarm time in the subduction zone can be shortened by five seconds. Subduction is one lithospheric plate being pulled or pushed beneath another. The researchers’ work will help solve the problem of the lack of seismic stations on the beaches of densely populated coastlines in the most seismically active regions of the world.

During two weeks, four strong earthquakes occurred in northwestern Afghanistan, although the region is not considered particularly seismically active, and quakes have not been recorded there since records began around 1900. That western section of the Hindu Kush mountain range, with few seismic stations and no GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) satellite measurements, probably experienced high seismic activity in earlier geological eras, and further earthquakes can be expected there.

Analysing rocks collected in Borneo, scientists from the University of Utrecht accidentally discovered a tectonic plate that disappeared 20 million years ago and was located in the place of today’s South China Sea. This piece of Earth’s crust – now called the Pontus Plate – was between Eurasia and Australia.

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