Portugal with environmental and seismic detection by submarine cable

The international submarine communications cable which will connect Portugal to Brazil and should become operational in the 2nd quarter of 2021, will have seismic detection capacity in the segment between Funchal and Sines, and will be the first international system in the world to be endowed with this functionality. The collected seismic data will be delivered, for storage, processing and study, to the national academia and to public agencies and institutes that study and address seismic activity.

The gathered information shall be aggregated and processes by the scientific community and public entities, with a view to substantially improving out scientific knowledge on the seabed of the Portuguese mainland platform, and may possibly also give rise to a significant additional contribution to decision-making on the production of warnings and notices of occurrence of tsunamis and earthquakes.

ANACOM has given particular attention to this topic and is following initiatives that enable submarine communications cables to carry out seismic and environmental detection (global warming/climate change pursuant to the UN “Sustainable Development Goals”). For this reason, ANACOM welcomed the announcement made by the ELLALINK future submarine system relative to Madeira and shall continue to support the use of submarine communications cables for environmental and seismic detection.

In 2017, ANACOM advised the Government on the need to replace the Mainland-Azores-Madeira (CAM) Ring, which shall be operational up to the end of 2024, as its replacement is absolutely necessary to assure territorial cohesion between the Autonomous Regions and Mainland Portugal.

In June 2018, ANACOM promoted the holding of a seminar in Lisbonhttps://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=1454658, with the participation of operators of Mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions, as well as members of the Regional Governments and of the Republic, where the need to replace the current CAM ring was presented. At the closing session, ANACOM challenged the sector, operators, manufacturers, etc. to consider the possibility of the future submarine cables, in the new CAM Ring, carrying out seismic detection.

In that same year, ANACOM started to promote the discussion of the possibility of seismic detection using submarine cables, and, since then, has been making contacts with suppliers and academia.

At the beginning of 2019, ANACOM started to closely follow the activities of the Joint Task Force SMART Cables1 (participation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)2, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO)3 and World Meteorological Organization (WMO)4) as well as the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC)5, and identified national entities that were already developing research leading to the use of submarine cable for seismic and environmental detection, having accompanied the understanding among them.

Seismic and environmental detection, through the use of submarine communications cables, could be possible through a variety of methods that are complementary and confirm one another, either using submerged sensors (referred to as “wet” detection) or not using submerged sensors (referred to as “dry” detection).

In mid-2019, the Government created a working group, chaired by ANACOM and including representatives of various ministries of the Autonomous Regions, to study the future of submarine cables in the CAM zone. The work was completed at the end of 2019 with the submission of a report to the Governmenthttps://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=1499946, which clearly identified the opportunity and convenience that the future submarine cables ensuring the CAM interconnection should also carry out environmental and seismic detection, with a view to the prospect of collecting scientific data and, if possible, creating conditions for the issue of warnings and notices on tsunamis and earthquakes.

1 https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/climatechange/task-force-sc/Pages/default.aspxhttps://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/climatechange/task-force-sc/Pages/default.aspx
2 https://www.itu.int/en/Pages/default.aspxhttps://www.itu.int/en/Pages/default.aspx
3 http://ioc-unesco.org/http://ioc-unesco.org/
4 https://public.wmo.int/enhttps://public.wmo.int/en
5 https://www.iscpc.org/https://www.iscpc.org/