how it works
The Compatt 6 may be deployed in water up to seven thousand metres (more than four miles) deep and it is fitted with a sensor that continuously monitors water pressure, saving data every fifteen minutes. Because a reliable early warning of a tsunami can only be obtained close to the sea floor, the Compatt provides the essential means of sending these readings up to the surface. Every hour the Compatt converts the pressure readings into signals which it transmits acoustically to the buoy on the surface.
The satellite communications transceiver on the buoy then automatically forwards the pressure readings to the tsunami monitoring agency ashore. The system can also receive data from the central control so that revised monitoring parameters can be downloaded to the Compatt if required.
The Compatt is programmed to anticipate continual changes in the pressure of the water as these can be caused by influences such as tides, weather conditions and temperature. As these changes can be predicted, a deviation of as little as 3cm from the expected pattern will switch the device into alert mode. This will cause the Compatt to immediately transmit any data that has been saved during the past hour to the surface. It will then take pressure readings every fifteen seconds which it will immediately send up to the buoy for transmission by satellite to the monitoring organisation. As a result, the first warnings of a tsunami occurring several thousand of miles away can be issued within minutes.
The advantage in using Sonardyne’s system over those of other suppliers is that the system is small and self contained and thus easy to deploy. Additionally, the heart of the system, Compatt 6, is based on proprietary technology and the firmware and software can be easily updated and adjusted if necessary.
Modern battery technology and Sonardyne’s experience of power management techniques make it possible for the tsunami detection unit to remain in continuous monitoring mode on the seabed for up to four years. At the end of that period, a unique acoustic code is transmitted from a surface ship to the tsunami transponder. A mechanism is then activated which releases the attached ballast weight enabling the Compatt to float up to the surface. It can then be quickly serviced and fitted with new batteries so that it can be re-deployed to resume its watch for the tsunamis that can cause such devastation and loss of life.