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InternationalThe little sensor that could

July 1, 2016

Phil Stamp is a beachcomber. He looks for objects on Willapa Bay shore. Before Christmas in 2014, he found something unusual in the sand.

He cleaned the object. It was a cylinder of glass and plastic with instruments inside. It looked important, so he said to his friend, “Can you help me find the owner?”

The two men sent out many emails. Finally in summer of 2015, Ryota Hino, a geophysicist in Japan said, “This is a seafloor sensor.” He had placed this sensor with five others in the Pacific Ocean in 2010. He was studying tsunamis and earthquakes.

The big earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011. At that time the ocean floor moved as much as 200 feet in places. This sensor broke away, and Ryota thought it was lost.

But actually the little sensor was floating 5,000 miles home to Redmond, Washington. It was made here by Paroscientific, Inc.

Hino came to get the sensor. It was beaten up, but he got a surprise when a new battery was installed. The sensor was good and had recorded valuable data. This was important because all the other sensors got damaged and gave little information.

The little sensor is now back in Japan and will soon be put back to work in the ocean.

Developed by Erika Michael


Published July 2016

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