The 2020 Ocean Science Revolution Using Submarine Fiber Optic Cables

Frank DiMariaBy Frank C. DiMaria
January 19, 2020

It's June 14, 2005 and I'm sitting in my Newport Beach/ Balboa Island, California apartment watching “The Office” for the first time… (How’s that for a blast from the past)! An emergency alert warning comes across the TV screen…. “TSUNAMI WARNING!! Evacuate Balboa Island and the surrounding area immediately!” This was everyone worst fear… our minds were fresh with the images of the catastrophic event of Dec 2004 where Indonesia and other countries that border the Indian Ocean was struck unknowingly by a huge tidal wave killing 230,000 people. Evacuation panic ensued in southern California, with 3-hour traffic jams and people running for the Newport hills and even others climbing on their roof and waiting in fear. Not a real good example of how to orderly avoid chaos but then that’s the point of this article …How have we changed since 2005 – specifically in the area of ocean science and how we will look to our oceans in the future for better warning signs and create early warning systems? This is not a scientific article but a commoner’s view of the infrastructure that’s in place and developing and how the scientific community is working hard to help prevent the next global disaster…and the look ahead.

Here is a brief recap of the world events that show the destructive power that tsunamis have had on the people of the world.

Place Year Mag H (m) Deaths
Chile 1960 9.5 25 6,000
Alaska 1964 9.2 30 132
Mindanao 1976 7.9 9 7,800
Tumaco 1979 8.1 6 350
Hokkaido 1993 7.8 30 250
Papua New Guinea 1998 7.1 15 2,200
Sumatra 2004 9.2 33 230,000
Solomon Island 2007 8.1 12 52
Samoa 2009 8.1 14 192
Tohoku 2011 9 10 19,000
Palu 2018 7.5 7 2,778


There are hundreds of earthquakes that occur globally every day. Some on land and many in the ocean and undetected. A random ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami is a “sleeping giant” capable of again producing a global catastrophe. For the record, what resulted in 2005 at Balboa Island was a 6-inch wave that brought to light how much we were in the dark. Little did I know, that in the future, I would be part of a new company that would repurpose Out-Of-Service (OOS) submarine cables to enable the scientific community to build a more robust reporting earthquake and tsunami early detection system. The company is called Submarine Cable Salvage, INC or SCS (owned & operated by Ocean Networks) and was launched with an outlook of building a business to support the scientific, research & education and government agencies around the world. Those in pursuit of better understanding of our oceans and the impact they have on coastal communities using monitoring systems powered by submarine cables are our customers.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 110 of the SubTel Forum magazine here on page 34.