MSM Ocean and Sonardyne partner on tsunami early warning system

Published on Monday, 31 January of 2022

MSM Ocean, our Oceanographic division, and Sonardyne International Ltd have entered a new partnership that will supply a complete solution for warning coastal communities of a tsunami.

The two companies can now jointly provide at-risk coastal nations with a single source of supply of tsunami early warning systems.

The agreement combines MSM Ocean’s expertise in oceanographic measurement buoys, on-board data processing and telecommunications and Sonardyne’s highly precise deep water pressure measurement and acoustic through-water telemetry capabilities.

Together, these allow minute changes in deep water pressure at the seafloor that indicate a tsunami to be reliably detected, triggering a direct alert to national emergency organisations via acoustic and satellite communications, all within seconds.

The tsunami early warning system is fully International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) compliant and can be deployed in areas of up to 7,000 m water depth.

Through the teaming agreement, MSM Ocean and Sonardyne have also agreed to non-exclusively explore further possibilities for combining their technologies in support of remotely connecting ocean scientists to their instruments on the seafloor via buoys.

Sonardyne has been supplying integrated Bottom Pressure Recorders (BPRs) configured for deep water tsunami detection to organisations around the world since 2007. Combining precise sensing, long-life battery and reliable communications in one easy to deploy and recover instrument, they were developed following the devasting 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. For the past decade, these have been integrated into MSM Ocean’s buoy-based Tsunami Early Warning Systems, which have been successfully installed along the Pacific coast of South America.

This includes two systems deployed off Ecuador which detected the January 15 tsunami, caused by the Hunga-Tonga submarine volcano eruption, 10,000 km away in the South Pacific. Alerts were raised by MSM Ocean’s buoys with the National Tsunami Warning Center of Ecuador just 35 seconds after the wave was detected by Sonardyne’s Bottom Pressure Recorder.


Geraint West, Head of Science at Sonardyne, says, “We have been working closely with MSM Ocean for more than a decade and together we recognised the benefit of providing a fully integrated and supported seafloor-to surface-to shore solution. By formalising our relationship, we can now offer a one-stop-shop for this critical capability to a wider range of coastal communities. Organisations can now approach either company for their remote tsunami early warning system configured to match their exact needs.”

Cecile Zanette, CEO at MSM Ocean, says, “Tsunamis present a threat to numerous coastal countries around the world mostly located around the Pacific Ring of Fire but also in other areas maybe less present in our mind such as in Europe and the Caribbean for example. Reliable and available systems of detection and early warning are a key component in the complex equation to mitigate the risk to population. And this is exactly such a system, field-proven, that we have developed combining Sonardyne’s highly precise Bottom Pressure Recorder technology with our instrumented buoys’ expertise.”



Functioning of the MSM Tsunami Early Warning and Detection System

Detection and Early Warning of Tsunamis in Ecuador – March 2021

Case study: Detection and Early Warning of Tsunamis in Ecuador- Tonga volcano – January 15

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