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Scripps Awarded $1 Million for Wave Glider Monitoring of Earthquake Sensors

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been granted $1 million to develop a deep sea seismic network. The National Science Foundation hopes that the project funding will be able to plug the monitoring gaps that currently plague the system.

Usually ships leave earthquake sensors in the ocean to gather data for some time before they are retrieved. In this project the Scripps Institution will pair up with the industry to use unmanned autonomous vessels on the ocean’s surface to gather data from sea floor sensors. This data will be then transmitted via satellite to the researchers at the UC San Diego based Scripps Institution, who can then analyze it. The unmanned vessels will be able to stay out longer in the sea and this will allow them to collect more data.

Geophysicist Jonathan Berger and co-principal investigators John Orcutt, Gabrielle Laske and Jeffrey Babcock will lead the Scripps team. They will use the autonomous unmanned vessels developed by Liquid Robotics. They will then develop a potentially transformative system for deploying seafloor seismometers and relaying their vital data in real-time for applications ranging from earthquake monitoring and deep Earth structure and dynamics to tsunami warning systems as per Berger.

Neil Trenaman, co-principal investigator and the head of Liquid Robotics' NSF project team said that their autonomous, unmanned surface vessel, the Wave Glider®, drew its propulsion energy directly from the ocean's endless supply of waves and solar panels were used to recharge the computing and communication power supply.

Trenaman added that by capitalizing on the abundance of natural ocean wave and solar energy, the Wave Glider is able to continuously transmit ocean data without the need for fuel, manpower or carbon emissions. This provides Scripps scientists an environmentally green and non-invasive technology to use for this critical earthquake and tsunami warning project.

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