An international team of scientists has unveiled a new system that can measure radiation in the ocean. This will help determine future tsunamis.
The researchers explained that recent volcanic eruptions in St. Vincent and Iceland did not lead to deaths, as they were predicted in advance. However, the underwater seismic activity that could trigger tsunamis destroying coastal areas is much more difficult to predict earlier. Now scientists at the University of Athens are developing underwater drones to detect radiation, which they believe could help create a tsunami early warning system.
It is known that on land, increased seismic activity leads to the release of small amounts of radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, into the soil several days before an earthquake. Therefore, detecting a burst of radioactivity on the seabed can help predict underwater earthquakes. However, as in many other areas of ocean science, we have little knowledge of what happens to the radioactivity on the seabed, and to detect a spike in radioactivity, we need to have raw data.
Measuring anything on the seabed is very difficult. The scientists noted that electronics do not like water, and this is a difficult place where high pressure and other forces, like waves and currents, persist. Seismographs are less reliable underwater, where vibrations from sea waves and winds can drown out vibrations from incipient earthquakes.
This task will be solved by the drone RAMONES (RadioActivity Monitoring in Ocean EcoSystems). However, the radioactivity sensors are designed for relatively quiet operation on land, so the RAMONES team has to redesign them to work in the seabed. So scientists can find thin layers of cesium-137, which is released from the earth’s crust during underwater drilling for oil wells.
“The situation at sea is not fully known, as there is a lot of legacy waste, but no monitoring has been carried out.” The team hopes that their drones will be able to help coastal communities and environmental monitoring groups better monitor this situation, ”the scientists noted.