SAFE: Tsunami early warning System using Availableseafloor Fiber cablEs


Tsunamis are one of the most deadly and destructive natural forces threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people in coastal areas and Small Island Developing States. Most of these communities, with the exception of a few rich countries like Japan and the United States, cannot afford current tsunami early warning systems. The EIC-funded SAFE project proposes a straightforward, low-cost, easy and reliable solution that takes advantage of the broadly available infrastructure of submarine fibre-optic cables widely used for communication. The system will be simply deployed by connecting an interrogator to the dry end of the fibre-optic cable and will allow the fastest possible life-saving alerts.


According to the World Health Organization, more than 700 million people live in low-lying coastal areas and Small Island Developing States exposed to extreme sea-level events including tsunamis. The cost of the most reliable currently-available tsunami warning systems (based on offshore sensors) is extremely high and essentially only affordable to rich countries like the US or Japan. As such, the vast majority of all this endangered population is not yet protected by this type of tsunami warning system. Luckily, the vast majority of these coastal areas have already-available fibre-optic cables installed (for communication purposes) which could additionally serve as a key component for tsunami early warning, at a marginal extra cost. The objective of this project is to fulfill the need of protecting these communities, which often have limited resources, by providing a tsunami early warning solution based on the already-available fibre optic infrastructure. The solution provided in this project will be simple to deploy and maintain (just connecting an interrogator in the dry end of the fiber-optic cable), low cost (it will be several orders of magnitude cheaper than current systems), reliable (tsunami alerts will be confirmed by the same device using indirect measurements of sea level) and timely (the response time is expected to be faster than current systems). The main market of this solution will be official meteorological and environmental institutions of different countries responsible for issuing early warnings.

European Innovation Council under Grant SAFE: ref. 101098992