University of South Florida (USF) geoscientists have tested a new shallow water buoy that can detect the small movements and changes in the Earth’s seafloor that are often a precursor to deadly natural hazards, like earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.
The buoy, created with the assistance of an $822,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination program, was installed off Egmont Key in the Gulf of Mexico last year and has been producing data on the three-dimensional motion of the sea floor. Ultimately the system will be able to detect small changes in the stress and strain the Earth’s crust, said USF Professor Tim Dixon.
The patent-pending seafloor geodesy system is an anchored spar buoy topped by high precision GPS. The buoy’ orientation is measured using a digital compass that provides heading, pitch, and roll information – helping to capture the crucial side-to-side motion of the Earth that can be diagnostic of major tsunami-producing earthquakes. Read on.