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Alaska Communications uses subsea for earthquake monitoring

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Alaska Communications has partnered the University of Michigan to develop earthquake monitoring solutions.

Specifically, Alaska Communication will work with the University's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to allow monitoring data, collected from the ocean floor using the company’s subsea cable.

“With two subsea cables connecting Alaska to the Lower 48, we have substantial infrastructure to aid in research that can help our communities,” said Rick Benken, vice president, network strategy, engineering and operations at Alaska Communications.

“We’re excited to support University of Michigan in gaining important insights about earthquakes and tsunamis.”

Assistant Professor Ƶack Spica and a graduate student travelled to Alaska Communications’ landing station in Florence, Oregon week commencing 9 August 2021, to attach a distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) interrogator to the company’s subsea fibre.

The DAS interrogator uses a beam of light inside the fibre to analyse seismic activity and report data back to the research team.

Spica has previously used subsea fibre optic cables for monitoring in Japan and Spain and has also used fibre within urban areas for this type of research.

“With the Cascadia subduction zone stretching along the Pacific northwest coastline along Canada, this is in an ideal location for our team to gather seismic data,” said Spica.

“This research project will support continued learning about utilising fibre for earthquake research, as well as learn how we can use this technology to provide early warning for tsunamis, which are often prompted by earthquakes.”

In related news, July saw ATN International, and its financial partner Freedom 3 Capital, complete their acquisition of Alaska Communications Systems Group for $343 million in cash.

In January 2021, ATN put in an all-cash agreed bid of $332 million for the company, beating a previous offer from Macquarie Capital and GCM Grosvenor, worth just $300 million.

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