Natural Hazards Editors' Highlights

Fiber Optics Opens Window into Subsurface Deformation

The distributed deformation of buried materials is difficult to map, but a new approach is able to resolve vertical deformation over the length of a fiber optic cable.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


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. [2018] 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. [2018]. Vertically distributed sensing of deformation using fiber optic sensing. Geophysical Research Letters, 45.

—M. Bayani Cardenas, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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