Lighting Up the Subsurface for Tomorrow’s City: Initiating a Penn State Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) Array for Monitoring Geo/Environmental Hazards

Aerial view of Penn State University Park campus
Project Type
April 2019
Research Themes

The Penn State DAS array (PSDASA), a subarray of the FORESEE project, is to revolutionize seismic monitoring of the urban area through a novel use of fiber optic cables to improve hazard assessment and increase early warning capability. We propose to develop a 4 km long DAS array leveraging the existing telecommunication fiber-optic cables (unused, so-called dark fiber) underneath the Penn State campus in State College, PA. The objectives of this project are to investigate if seismic ambient noise can provide the real-time map of the subsurface geology in such an urban area and if there are reliable precursor signals for environmental hazards (e.g., rain/flooding, subsidence/sinkholes on campus). The PSDASA will be the first study to use the existing dark fiber cables for seismic monitoring of underground environmental changes on the East Coast, an area where there are many densely located cities. If successful in the Penn State urban area, we’ll plan to develop a DAS array in a modern metropolitan area (e.g. Pittsburgh) by leveraging existing dark fiber cables for managing the subsurface geohazards for future ‘smart’ cities. 

Resulting Funding

Resulting Publications


Patrick J. Fox

Patrick J. Fox
Former John A. and Harriette K. Shaw Professor and Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Eileen Martin

Eileen Martin
Assistant Professor, Computational Modeling and Data Analytics, Virginia Tech

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