Land subsidence is a major problem in many areas. It usually occurs in deltaic regions, many of which are home to large human populations. Subsidence is typically due to compaction of specific fine-grained layers of geologic formations that are more elastic. However, pinpointing where underground compaction occurs is very challenging. Zhang et al.  demonstrate that detailed vertical profiles of deformation can now be mapped using novel applications of fiber-optic sensing. They buried and installed a fiber-optic cable into boreholes and mapped the strain experienced by the cable. This allowed meter-scale mapping of where the hotspots for deformation are located. This opens many opportunities for applications in geomechanics and hydrology.
Citation: Zhang, C.‐C., Shi, B., Gu, K., Liu, S.‐P., Wu, J.‐H., Zhang, S., et al. . Vertically distributed sensing of deformation using fiber optic sensing. Geophysical Research Letters, 45. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL080428
—M. Bayani Cardenas, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters