Geology & Geophysics Editors' Highlights

Aftershocks and Fiber Optics

Internet cables can be transformed into a string of dense seismic sensors, and this approach has now been shown to be highly useful for quickly monitoring seismicity after major earthquakes.

Source: AGU Advances


Over recent years, technological advances have led to new types of seismological measurement strategies for both academic and industry applications, including those that allow for very dense (“large N”) sensor deployments. In particular, existing optical fiber cables, such as those used for internet communications, can be transformed into strings of thousands of quasi-seismometers along many kilometers of cable. Li et al. [2021] show the promise of doing this in a rapid response setting, where an objective might be to record seismic activity after an earthquake. By installing a cable interrogation unit at a single strand of fiber near the magnitude 7.1 2019 Ridgecrest event, the authors were able to dramatically increase the number of recorded aftershocks. This demonstrates the potential to complement permanent seismometer networks to allow zooming into fault zone structure and dynamics at unprecedented levels of detail. 

Citation: Li, Z., Shen, Z., Yang, Y. et al. [2021]. Rapid Response to the 2019 Ridgecrest Earthquake with Distributed Acoustic Sensing. AGU Advances, 2, e2021AV000395.

—Thorsten W. Becker, Editor, AGU Advances

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