Portugal will debut seismic detection by submarine cable worldwide

The international submarine communications cable that will connect Portugal to Brazil and which should start operating in the 2nd quarter of 2021, will have seismic detection capacity in the branch between Funchal and Sines, being the first international system in the world to be equipped this functionality. The seismic data collected should be delivered, for storage, processing and study, to the national academy and to public agencies and institutes that study and address seismic activity.

The information collected should be aggregated and processed by the scientific community and public entities, with a view to substantially improving scientific knowledge of the maritime background of the Portuguese continental platform, with the possibility of a significant additional contribution to decision-making on the production of warnings and warnings of tsunamis and earthquakes.

ANACOM has paid particular attention to this issue and is pursuing initiatives that allow submarine communications cables to carry out seismic and environmental detection, which is why it welcomes the announcement made by the future ELLALINK submarine system in relation to Madeira and will continue to support the use of submarine communications cables for environmental and seismic detection.

In 2017, ANACOM alerted the Government to the need to replace the Continente-Açores-Madeira ring (CAM), which will be in service until the end of 2024, since its replacement is absolutely necessary to ensure territorial cohesion between the Autonomous Regions and the Continent.

In June 2018, ANACOM promoted a seminar in Lisbon, with the participation of operators from the Mainland and the Autonomous Regions, as well as members of the Regional and Republic Governments, where the need to replace the current CAM Ring was presented. At the close, ANACOM challenged the sector, operators, manufacturers, etc., to consider the possibility that, in the new CAM Ring, future submarine cables could perform seismic detection.

That same year, ANACOM started promoting the discussion of the possibility of seismic detection using underwater cables and has been making contacts with suppliers and the academy.

In early 2019, ANACOM started to closely monitor the activities of the SMART Cables Joint Task Force, as well as the ICPC, and identified national entities that were already carrying out research that led to the use of undersea cables for seismic and environmental detection, taking into account accompanied the understanding between them.

Environmental and seismic detection, through the use of submarine communications cables, may be possible through various methods that complement and confirm each other, either by the use of submerged sensors, or by the non-recurrence of the use of submerged sensors.

In mid 2019, a working group was created by the Government, chaired by ANACOM and comprising representatives from various ministries and the Autonomous Regions, to study the future of submarine cables in the CAM zone, with the work being concluded at the end of 2019 with the delivery a report to the Government, in which it was clearly identified the opportunity and convenience in which the future submarine cables that would guarantee the CAM interconnection, could also carry out environmental and seismic detection, in view of the possibility of collecting scientific and , if possible, having as a last objective the possibility of creating conditions for the issuance of warnings and warnings for tsunamis and also earthquakes.

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