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Distributed Acoustic Sensing Turns Fiber‐Optic Cables into Sensitive Seismic Antennas

Zhan, Zhongwen (2020) Distributed Acoustic Sensing Turns Fiber‐Optic Cables into Sensitive Seismic Antennas. Seismological Research Letters, 91 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 0895-0695. doi:10.1785/0220190112.

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Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) is a new, relatively inexpensive technology that is rapidly demonstrating its promise for recording earthquake waves and other seismic signals in a wide range of research and public safety arenas. It should significantly augment present seismic networks. For several important applications, it should be superior. It employs ordinary fiber‐optic cables, but not as channels for data among separate sophisticated instruments. With DAS, the hair‐thin glass fibers themselves are the sensors. Internal natural flaws serve as seismic strainmeters, kinds of seismic detector. Unused or dark fibers are common in fiber cables widespread around the globe, or in dedicated cables designed for special application, are appropriate for DAS. They can sample passing seismic waves at locations every few meters or closer along paths stretching for tens of kilometers. DAS arrays should enrich the three major areas of local and regional seismology: earthquake monitoring, imaging of faults and many other geologic formations, and hazard assessment. Recent laboratory and field results from DAS tests underscore its broad bandwidth and high‐waveform fidelity. Thus, while still in its infancy, DAS already has shown itself as the working heart—or perhaps ear drums—of a valuable new seismic listening tool. My colleagues and I expect rapid growth of applications. We further expect it to spread into such frontiers as ocean‐bottom seismology, glacial and related cryoseismology, and seismology on other solar system bodies.

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Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Additional Information:© 2020 Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received 12 May 2019; Published online 4 December 2019. This work is supported by California Institute of Technology–Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Caltech‐JPL) President and Director’s Fund, the Keck Institute for Space Studies, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award 1848166. The author benefited from discussions with Jonathan Ajo‐Franklin, Biondo Biondi, Nate Lindsey, Eileen Martin, Miguel González Herráez, Fidalgo Martins Hugo, Martin Karrenbach, Thomas Coleman, Xiangfang Zeng, Mark Panning, Andrew Klesh, and Alireza Mirandi. The author thanks Duarte Pereira da Costa Luis for help preparing Figure 2. The author thanks two anonymous reviewers for helping clarify the article substantially, Charles Petit for editing the article, and Editor‐in‐Chief Zhigang Peng for inviting this contribution. Data and Resources: The information on Infrapedia can be found at (last accessed April 2019). A video tutorial of DAS by Eileen Martin and Nate Lindsey is available on Youtube (, last accessed October 2019). The PoroTomo data, including two weeks of DAS data, are openly available on (last accessed October 2019) thanks to the PoroTomo team (University of Wisconsin, 2017). Please see Wang et al. (2019) for a report on the pre‐AGU DAS workshop WS29: Distributed Acoustic Sensing: Principles and Case Studies, with a link to the materials presented.
Group:Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG), Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Keck Institute for Space Studies, Seismological Laboratory
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JPL President and Director's FundUNSPECIFIED
Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200116-083302517
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Official Citation:Zhongwen Zhan; Distributed Acoustic Sensing Turns Fiber‐Optic Cables into Sensitive Seismic Antennas. Seismological Research Letters ; 91 (1): 1–15. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100750
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Jan 2020 17:22
Last Modified:15 Nov 2022 19:19

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