Anti-nuclear test agency installs a key part of a hydroacoustic monitoring system on the remote French-administered Crozet Islands. Edward Baran reports.
It's one of the last untouched places on earth and a nature reserve studied by biologists. But now the French administered Crozet islands are set to play a key role in anti-nuclear testing. Two experts from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna have visited to install a key part of an international nuclear explosion monitoring systsem. SOUNDBITE, English. JERRY STANLEY, HYDROAUCOUSTIC OFFICER, SAYING: "The International Monitoring System uses four different technologies for detecting nuclear explosions. These technologies are underwater hydroacoustic stations. There are six of these underwater listening stations and we are moving towards installing one at the Crozet Islands." Hydroacoustic monitoring is one of the technologies used to verify compliance with the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The CTBTO says nuclear explosions underwater or in the atmosphere near the ocean surface generate sound waves that can be detected by the network. A detailed deep water survey has been done so the team can return to install special underwater microphones called hydrophones. The data they collect will be sent to this receiving station, and then sent by satellite to Vienna, where it will be analaysed to clarify the nature of the event. But, the system has a range of uses beyond monitoring for nuclear tests. SOUNDBITE, English, RAPHAEL SHEFFIELD, CROZET ISLANDS DISTRICT CHIEF, SAYING: "We have a lot of whales in the Antarctic and sub Antarctic regions, the hydrophones will pick those up and this gives us really valuable materials that enable us to do long term studies. They will also pick up seismic movements and for Tsunami alerts the CTBTO network supplies a lot of information as well. So it is very rich scientifically," The team have compiled a 3D map which will allow them to determine exactly where to install the underwater microphones and lay the cable for the system when they return later this year.