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Communications of the ACM


A New Movement in Seismology


Credit: Getty Images

Whenever an earthquake strikes, news reports quickly fill in certain details, such as how strong the quake was and where it was centered. That information comes from a networks of seismometers scattered across the planet. Seismometers, though, can be expensive to install and maintain over long periods, and researchers cannot place them everywhere they might like, such as in the densely built and expensive streets of an earthquake-prone city like San Francisco.

Some scientists, however, are exploring a different approach, using a sensor that is already widely deployed beneath the streets of towns and cities around the world. That sensor is the common fiber-optic cable, used to carry telephone and Internet traffic.


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