Measuring sound waves could offer real-time early warning system for tsunamis

tsunamis measuring sound waves tsunami wave
Yew! Images/Getty Images
Tsunamis can be incredibly destructive, none more so than the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the deadliest on record, which claimed nearly 230,000 lives across 15 countries. While we don’t yet have a way to stop tsunamis from happening, mathematicians at the U.K.’s Cardiff University have come up with a new method for using sound waves to calculate the size and potential destructive force of a tsunami in advance. The results could open up the possibility of developing a live early warning system capable of saving lives.

“We have derived an analytical solution for the propagation of sound waves from slender faults being displaced upwards, then applied an inverse approach to calculate the main properties of the fault and its movement — such as location, length, width, orientation, duration, speed, and time of eruption,” Dr. Usama Kadri, from Cardiff University’s School of Mathematics, told Digital Trends. “Practically, the solution allows us to analyze hydrophone [underwater microphone] recordings and calculate the main properties of the fault in near-real time.”

At present, tsunami early warning systems involve floating devices that measure pressure changes in the ocean. This isn’t a perfect solution, since the large number of flotation devices makes it extremely costly. Because it relies on physical contact with the tsunami in order to register a possible wave, it’s also not useful if the device is located too close to shore — since it would provide only a few extra minutes or seconds of warning.

The Cardiff University system, on the other hand, analyzes naturally occurring acoustic gravity waves (AGWs) generated in the deep ocean following a tsunami trigger event such as an underwater earthquake. Because these AGWs travel more than 10 times the speed of a tsunami wave, they can be far more effective in offering a useful alert.

“We’re currently analyzing other main properties under actual scenarios, and developing an efficient tsunami model that can run in parallel to the inverse solution, to maximize efficiency and warning time,” Kadri said. He noted that the team would consider commercializing the technology, although this would only be done “if it will not act as a barrier, at whatever level, in front of the main objective of our work: to create an efficient tsunami warning system to protect lives globally and invariably.”

A paper describing the work was recently published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.

Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Cars

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover giant chimneys spewing energy from the center of the galaxy

Astronomers have discovered two exhaust channels which are funneling matter and energy away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and out towards the edges of the galaxy, dubbed galactic center chimneys.