Séminaire GM/LGO de Philippe JOUSSET (GFZ Potsdam)

Fibre optic Distributed Acoustic Sensing for seismology, volcanology and submarine research


Volcanic and seismic activities produce a variety of phenomena that put population at risk and disrupt our societies. Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology has the ability to revolutionize seismic and volcanic monitoring and our understanding of the underlying processes. After a short review of the principle benefits and issues of the new DAS technology and its applications, I will focus on Mount Etna, Italy, a complex volcanic structure, where volcano-tectonic processes interact.

We applied DAS to monitor and explore faults at several locations around Mount Etna volcano in 2018 and 2019, in collaboration with the Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Volcanologia (INGV Catania). Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology has been tested for the first time in 2018 (and also in 2019), as a new tool for monitoring the complex tectonic and volcanic interactions of Etna volcano from the summit to the sea floor. We connected up to 3 iDAS interrogators, sometimes simultaneously, to optical cables close to the summit, in urban areas and offshore. Each iDAS measured the dynamic strain rate along the whole length of the optical fibre, from the interferometric analysis of the back-scattered light.

At the summit area, we connect an iDAS interrogator inside the Volcanological Observatory of Pizzi Deneri (2800 m elevation close to Etna summit) to record dynamic strain signals along a 1.5 km-long fibre optic cable that we deployed in the scoria of Piano delle Concazze. We recorded signals associated with various volcanic events, local and distant earthquakes, thunderstorm, as well as many other anthropogenic signals (e.g., tourists). To validate the DAS signal, we collocated along the fibre cable multi-parametric arrays (comprising geophones, broadband seismometers, infrasonic arrays). During the survey periods, Etna activity was mainly characterized by moderate but frequent explosive and/or effusive activity from summit craters, as monitored by INGV. Our observations suggest that DAS technology can record volcano-related signals (in the order of tens nanostrain) with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions, opening new opportunities for the understanding of volcano processes. I show several recent results.

In urban environments, we took advantage of the existence of fibre optic telecommunication infrastructures, we connected iDAS interrogator to fibre optic cables, known to cross active faults linked to the volcano eastern flank dynamics. We recorded dynamic strain rate along several telecom lines in villages on the slopes of Etna, where faults cross villages (e.g., 4 km cable for about 20 days in Zafferana village; 12 km-long cable running from Linera to Fleri; 40 km-long fibre optic telecommunication cable on the western side of the volcano, at the border between the sedimentary layer and the volcano edifice).

On the sea floor, we connected an iDAS interrogator to a 30-km long fibre within a cable transmitting data from sub-marine instrumentation to INFN-LNS facility at the Catania harbor in collaboration with the University of Brest, the CNRS and IFREMER (FOCUS project). We record dynamic strain signals from local and regional earthquakes and look for faults offsetting the sea floor below the eastern flank of the volcano.

Our preliminary results demonstrate that DAS technology is able to contribute significantly to the monitoring system of earthquake and volcanic phenomena at Etna volcano from the summit to submarine environment, and thereby improves assessment of volcanic and seismic hazard at volcanoes.

Summit of Etna volcano August 2018.

Submarine DAS strain rate record of an earthquake M5.6 in Albania, 21.09.2019