Distributed Optical Fiber Strain Sensor for Detecting River Embankment Collapse

Mitsuru KIHARA  Katsumi HIRAMATSU  Masaki SHIMA  Shigeru IKEDA  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Electronics   Vol.E85-C    No.4    pp.952-960
Publication Date: 2002/04/01
Online ISSN: 
Print ISSN: 0916-8516
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Issue on Optical Fibers and Devices)
river embankment,  distributed optical fiber sensor,  strain,  monitoring,  river management system,  

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We have developed a distributed optical fiber strain sensor for detecting the collapse of river embankments. The sensor uses a Brillouin optical time domain reflectometer (BOTDR) and consists of an optical fiber cable and pieces of nonwoven cloth. Pieces of cloth are fixed to the cable at 1.5-meter intervals and it is then embedded in a U-shaped configuration in a river embankment. The pieces of cloth are displaced when there is movement of the soil in which they are embedded. If one of two adjacent pieces of cloth remains stationary while the other moves, the optical fiber between the two pieces is stretched. The collapse of an embankment can be detected by using a BOTDR to monitor any such stretching in the 1.5-m lengths of fiber. The developed sensor operates at a sensitivity of 0.025%/kgf, which is equivalent to 0.067%/mm, and is thus capable of detecting soil movements of a few mm in river embankments. The sensor is also able to provide effective advance warning of the collapse of a river embankment resulting from water penetration. We subjected the sensor system to field tests that demonstrated the effectiveness of its construction and its long-term stability. The developed sensor system is an effective tool for use in river management systems of the very near future.