NOAA completes tsunami alert system

Two tsunami-detection buoys deployed this week near the Solomon Islands are the final links in a chain of stations designed to provide accurate tsunami warnings for Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now has 39 sensors positioned in every seismic zone that could generate a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean, the Western Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

The deep-ocean assessment and reporting (DART) stations consist of a bottom pressure sensor anchored to the seafloor and a companion moored surface buoy. Data from the submerged sensor is relayed to the surface buoy and then the combined data is relayed via satellite to NOAA's tsunami warning centers.

Since the Indonesian tsunami of December 2004, NOAA has made significant upgrades to the U.S. tsunami warning system, including expanding the network of DART buoys from six to 39, installing 49 new or upgraded tide gauges and installing or upgrading eight seismic stations.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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