The recent earthquake in Haiti was caused by an underwater earthquake. Thankfully, it did not cause a tsunami (giant wave), but scientists would like to know how to detect these waves before they hit, so that lives can be saved by moving people to higher ground.
Tsunamis are created by a large displacement of water resulting from earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and even meteors hitting the ocean. It turns out that tsunamis send electric signals through the ocean that can be sensed by the vast network of communication cables on the seabed because salty seawater is a good conductor of electricity.
PhysOrg.com quotes NOAA's Manoj Nair as saying, "By monitoring voltages across this network of ocean cables, we may be able to enhance the current tsunami warning system." But research is still needed before we can isolate the tsunami signals from electricity generated by other natural sources.
To donate to Haitian earthquake relief, click here.
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