Stanford researchers working on regional “seismic observatory” using existing fiber optic networks

Researchers at Stanford are pleased to report the following:

Thousands of miles of buried optical fibers crisscross California’s San Francisco Bay Area delivering high-speed internet and HD video to homes and businesses.

Biondo Biondi, a professor of geophysics at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, dreams of turning that dense network into an inexpensive “billion sensors” observatory for continuously monitoring and studying earthquakes.

Map shows location of a 3-mile, figure-8 loop of optical fibers installed beneath the Stanford campus as part of the fiber optic seismic observatory. Over the past year, Biondi’s group has shown that it’s possible to convert the jiggles of perturbed optical fiber strands into information about the direction and magnitude of seismic events.

In other words, our existing fiber optic infrastructure(s) can be utilized as an advanced seismographic monitoring network increasing both the quantity and quality of data available to researchers. The ultimate goal for this specific team is the development and implementation of a Bay-area wide mesh network for monitoring seismic activity in realtime.