In DepthEarth Science

Drones reveal earthquake hazards hidden in the abyss

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  15 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6467, pp. 785
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6467.785

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

Subduction zones, the massive faults found where plates of dense ocean crust dive beneath continents, are the source of the world's largest earthquakes and tsunamis. Although GPS stations on land have revolutionized studies of the faults' movement, GPS radio signals cannot penetrate through the ocean to the sea floor, leaving large gaps in the study and hazard assessment of subduction zones. Techniques to track this movement, using GPS on ships tied to acoustic beacons on the sea floor, remain prohibitively expensive, though they have been embraced, with great success, in recent years by Japan. Now, U.S. scientists have developed a way to use ocean-going drones to replace ships, a move that many hope will greatly expand study of these faults.

View Full Text