ABSTRACT

We report here the design, performance, and in situ demonstration, on‐land and offshore, of an innovative high‐resolution low‐cost optical (laser) seismometer. The instrument was developed within the Laser Interferometry for Earth Strain project (French Agence Nationale de la Recherche [ANR] program), and first tested at the low‐noise underground laboratory Laboratoire Souterrain à Bas Bruit (LSBB, France). It is based on Fabry–Pérot optical interferometry between the extremity of a probing optical fiber and a reflecting mirror secured to the mobile mass of a passive 2 Hz geophone. The detection technique is based on the wavelength modulation of the laser diode (1310 nm), which allows the separation of the optical power into two signals in quadrature, thanks to an heterodyne technique. The relative displacement of the mobile mass is retrieved in real time by the phase unwrapping of these two signals. At LSBB, the fiber was 3 km long. It recorded many teleseismic earthquakes and a few regional ones, and resolves the low‐seismic noise of the Earth for periods up to 6 s, presenting an acceleration noise floor lower than 1  ng/Hz in the 0.3–5 Hz range. A three‐component version of this fiber‐based interferometric 2 Hz geophone has been recently constructed, shielded in a hyperbaric container, and installed offshore for test in Brittany (France) in April 2018, with an improved control system. Its record of the marine ambient noise matches those of a collocated commercial broadband seismometer for periods up to 50 s. This opens promising perspectives for large‐scale ocean bottom instrumentation with up to 50‐kilometer‐long optical lines; an installation is planned for 2020, off Guadeloupe, with a 5‐kilometer‐long fiber cable. It may also prove useful for installations in other challenging and exposed environments, such as deep hot boreholes, active volcanoes, unstable landslides, for real‐time monitoring in regions with high natural hazard, but also for seismic monitoring of geoindustries.

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