Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Christopher D. P. Baxter


Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) is a fiber optic sensing system that is used for vibration monitoring. At a minimum, DAS is composed of a fiber optic cable and an optic analyzer called an interrogator. The oil and gas industry has used DAS for over a decade to monitor infrastructure such as pipelines for leaks, and in recent years changes in DAS performance over time have been observed for DAS arrays that are buried in the ground. This dissertation investigates the effect that soil type, soil temperature, soil moisture, time in-situ, and vehicle loading have on DAS performance for fiber optic cables buried in soil. This was accomplished through a field testing program involving two newly installed DAS arrays. For the first installation, a new portion of DAS array was added to an existing DAS array installed a decade prior. The new portion of the DAS array was installed in four different soil types: native fill, sand, gravel, and an excavatable flowable fill. Soil moisture and temperature sensors were buried adjacent to the fiber optic cable to monitor seasonal environmental changes over time. Periodic impact testing was performed at set locations along the DAS array for over one year. A second, temporary DAS array was installed to test the effect of vehicle loading on DAS performance. Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) of the DAS response was used for all the tests to evaluate the system performance. The results of the impact testing program indicated that the portions of the array in gravel performed more consistently over time. Changes in soil moisture or soil temperature did not appear to affect DAS performance. The results also indicated that time DAS performance does change somewhat over time. Performance variance increased in new portions of array in all material types through time. The SNR in portions of the DAS array in native silty sand material dropped slightly, while the SNR in portions of the array in sand fill and flowable fill material decreased significantly over time. This significant change in performance occurred while testing halted from March 2020 to August 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These significant changes in performance were observed in the new portion of test bed, while the performance of the prior installation remained consistent. It may be that, after some time in-situ, SNR in a DAS array will reach a steady state. Though it is unfortunate that testing was on pause while changes in DAS performance developed, the observed changes emphasize the potential of DAS to be used for infrastructure change-detection monitoring. In the temporary test bed, increasing vehicle loads were observed to increase DAS performance, although there was considerable variability in the measured SNR. The significant variation in DAS response is likely due to various industrial activities on-site and some disturbance to the array while on-boarding and off-boarding vehicles. The results of this experiment indicated that the presence of load on less than 10% of an array channel length may improve DAS performance. Overall, this dissertation provides guidance that can help inform the civil engineering community with respect to installation design recommendations related to DAS used for infrastructure monitoring.



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