DAS with telecommunication fibre-optic cable in urban areas can record storm-induced seismic noise

Junzhu Shen, Tieyuan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extreme weather events threaten life and property in populated areas. Timely and precise weather event monitoring and risk assessment are critical, but can be hampered by limited meteorological stations in cities. Recent studies have shown that seismic stations are sensitive to storm-induced noise. This study aims to investigate the sensitivity of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS), a technology capable of turning existing optical fibres into dense seismic sensors, for recording storm-induced seismic noise. We analyse 4-month continuous DAS recordings (June–September 2021) from a 4.2-km-long underground fibre-optic array in State College, PA. We calibrate the DAS data by comparing it to various meteorological data (rainfall and wind speed) from nearby weather stations. We first show DAS-recorded low-frequency wind-induced noise (0.5–8 Hz) probably caused by light poles swaying in the wind, as observed resonant frequencies agree with theoretical natural frequencies of nearby light poles. We find a strong linear correlation between DAS energy and wind speed. We further characterize rain-induced noise. Detailed observations from two rain events: a moderate rain and a heavy rain from Hurricane Ida, suggest that rain-induced noise is not generated by direct raindrops hitting the ground. Instead, the low-frequency noise (2–8 Hz) is attributed to the acoustic noise generated by water flow in stormwater drainage systems. Strong high-frequency noise up to 125 Hz is likely related to the rapid rainwater filling from the surface to the drainage system during heavy rain. We show linear relations between rain-induced DAS energy and rainfall rate, where the slopes of relations are related to the volume of rainwater, suggesting the influence of surface water and rainwater flow in the drainage system on DAS signals. Our results show the possibility of using DAS-equipped pre-existing telecom fibre-optic cables for sensing windstorms and rainstorms in urban areas and their interactions with urban infrastructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2022-2036
Number of pages15
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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