An earthquake of magnitude 8.2 hit the Chile coast last week and brought about landslides and a significant tsunami. A week before that, many earthquakes of smaller magnitude had hit the Southern California. The immense earthquake that struck Japan in March, 2011 did not just cause a nuclear plant meltdown but the satellites were also knocked out of their orbits.
This great earthquake and its damage has resulted in an increasing realization that it is important to be ready for huge earthquakes in spite of their unpredictability. In order to defend the important infrastructure in areas liable to such earthquakes, the French scientists are working to build something similar to a sound shield which can redirect the energy of earthquake somewhere else.
Some scientists are working on forecasting earthquakes; even then they have been able to predict earthquakes only minutes before the disaster. The French scientists are looking to lessen the destruction caused by such earthquakes, particularly to the buildings that are not used to such intense shaking, for example power plants. These scientists doubted if the sound waves also behave like cloaking techniques that bend some wavelengths of light around a target to make them invisible. The plan is to build a series of minor holes around the city susceptible to earthquakes that vibrate at the same frequencies as the earthquakes and hence, counterbalances the vibrations and saves the area inside the holes. The scientist arranged a demonstration with the help of sound waves in soil that worked; the energy from their computer-generated earthquake was refracted by the sound waves from a particular target area.
There is one difficulty regarding the bending of earthquakes with sound waves, that is, where will the energy go after being deflected? Scientists are still working on it, while making sure that the safety of areas like nuclear plants and hospitals is not affected. Check out the video below for more details: