Sensing Earth and environment dynamics by telecommunication fiber-optic sensors: an urban experiment in Pennsylvania, USA
Martin, Eileen R.
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Continuous seismic monitoring of the Earth’s near surface (top 100 m), especially with improved resolution and extent of data both in space and time, would yield more accurate insights about the effect of extreme-weather events (e.g., flooding or drought) and climate change on the Earth’s surface and subsurface systems. However, continuous long-term seismic monitoring, especially in urban areas, remains challenging. We describe the Fiber Optic foR Environmental SEnsEing (FORESEE) project in Pennsylvania, USA, the first continuous-monitoring distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) fiber array in the eastern USA. This array is made up of nearly 5 km of pre-existing dark telecommunication fiber underneath the Pennsylvania State University campus. A major thrust of this experiment is the study of urban geohazard and hydrological systems through near-surface seismic monitoring. Here we detail the FORESEE experiment deployment and instrument calibration, and describe multiple observations of seismic sources in the first year. We calibrate the array by comparison to earthquake data from a nearby seismometer and to active-source geophone data. We observed a wide variety of seismic signatures in our DAS recordings: natural events (earthquakes and thunderstorms) and anthropogenic events (mining blasts, vehicles, music concerts and walking steps). Preliminary analysis of these signals suggests DAS has the capability to sense broadband vibrations and discriminate between seismic signatures of different quakes and anthropogenic sources. With the success of collecting 1 year of continuous DAS recordings, we conclude that DAS along with telecommunication fiber will potentially serve the purpose of continuous near-surface seismic monitoring in populated areas.