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Chile strengthens its tsunami alert system with new Dart 4g buoy

A year after the installation of two prototypes of the DART 4G Buoy System off the coast of Mejillones and Constitución, on December 05 in the facilities of the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy (SHOA), its Director, Rear Admiral Patricio Carrasco, announced together with the Deputy Director of the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, Mr. Víctor Orellana (ONEMI), the Director of the National Research Center for the Integrated Management of Natural Disasters (CIGIDEN) Mr. Rodrigo Cienfuego and the Director of the Center Seismological National (CSN) Dr. Sergio Barrientos, the installation of a third generation buoy 220 km NW of Valparaiso.

With the installation of this new DART 4G Buoy 220 kms NW of Valparaíso, there are now five instruments with which Chile can count on for early detection of Tsunamis off its national coast.According to the naval authority, the funding of this fifth system will cover a gap that currently existed between the DART II Buoy located in the Caldera sector and the DART 4G in Constitución, allowing greater coverage at the national level and increase the capacity of tsunami detection at a distance closer to the epicenter where earthquakes generate tsunamis occur. "With the installation of this new Buoy through the AGS Cabo de Hornos Scientific Ship, we will have better forecasting and we will be better covered in an area where there was no buoy," said Admiral Carrasco.

On the other hand, the ONEMI National Deputy Director, Victor Orellana, highlighted the work of the Technical Scientific Organizations, who with their contribution of capacities are helping to strengthen in Chile a System of Monitoring and Early Warning against the threat of Tsunami. This has been evidenced by the collaborative work between ONEMI, CSN, SHOA and academic institutions.

Rodrigo Cienfuegos of CIGIDEN said that this organization from the beginning has worked hand in hand with the national institutions responsible for Risk Management. "The SIPAT System was a work developed together with the Federico Santa María University and CIGIDEN, and today we are happy to participate and continue to support the work of SHOA. Undoubtedly, this new buoy and the network that is in operation will allow us to have more information to analyze the consequences of tsunamis and to advance in mitigation of their impacts," he said.

Finally, along with recognizing the permanent need for knowledge about these events, Dr. Barrientos mentioned the contribution that the installation of this new Buoy entails, since through it, it will be possible to obtain a greater warning regarding the behavior of a tsunami. He also indicated that the installation of this fifth buoy in the central-north of the coastine, corrects the lack of coverage with this type of instrument, where in addition, one would expect that the seismic activity is increasingly frequent. "Major earthquakes are more likely to occur in those places where no such events have occurred in the last ten or a hundred years."

DART 4G System Features

Recent advances in sensors, software and power management enable detection and measurement of near field tsunamis with unprecedented resolution.

The pressure sensor and enhanced nano-resolution algorithms that are installed in the BPR (Bottom Pressure Recorder) allow the distinction of a Tsunami signal or the "noise" produced by the earthquake.

The slowness and loss of real-time communication between the sea floor (BPR) and the surface (Buoy) has been reduced, while Tsunami height measurements have increased in resolution.

The 4G version of the DART system is powered by NOEL developed PMEL technology, which had been transferred to US private industry. An initial prototype was deployed for 18 months in the United States, at a depth of approximately 900 meters, which allowed the recording of very high sampling rates (40 Hz - forty times a second), from which a detection algorithm can be derived. It's also equipped with low consumption battery system.

The DART 4G System includes improvements in the BPR with a new pressure sensor and software that uses the detection and filtering algorithm for the transmission of Tsunami height data while the earthquake is still in the breakdown stage.

The new algorithms have been developed from studies of Tsunamis near-field data and applying the most effective processing techniques.

Advances in energy optimization have allowed the system to have a 5-year autonomy for the Tsunamis (Pharos Sensor) meter and two years for the surface buoys. On the receiving side of ground data, improvements have been made to receive higher frequency information during events. As a complement, standard meteorological sensors (wind, temperature and relative air humidity, sea surface temperature and barometric pressure) were considered.