Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing Technology Demonstration and Evaluation Project

Science Center Objects

Fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing (FO-DTS) is an emerging technology that has promise for characterizing estuary-aquifer and stream-aquifer interaction and for identifying transmissive fractures in bedrock boreholes.

Overview

New geophysical methods are required for monitoring hydrologic processes at the catchment and larger scales, and for quantifying fluxes between groundwater and surface water. Fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing (FO-DTS) is an emerging technology that has promise for characterizing estuary-aquifer and stream-aquifer interaction and for identifying transmissive fractures in bedrock boreholes. Although routinely used for monitoring temperature and (or) strain in petroleum wells, FO-DTS applications in hydrology are uncommon.

 

Technology Evaluation Project

Charles Harvey (MIT) and Fred Day-Lewis (USGS) prepare fiber-optic distributed temperature system

Charles Harvey (MIT) and Fred Day-Lewis (USGS) prepare fiber-optic distributed temperature system for deployment at Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Massachusetts.

In the spring of 2006, USGS Water Resources Mission Area began a six-month FO-DTS technology demonstration/evaluation project. As part of this project, several FO-DTS pilot studies were conducted at the 100-meter to kilometer scales. Study goals included evaluating the use of FO-DTS for:

  • mapping submarine groundwater discharge,
  • identifying gaining stream reaches, and
  • identifying transmissive fractures in boreholes.

For each project, additional hydrologic, chemical, or geophysical data were used to help confirm interpretations based on the fiber-optic temperature monitoring results.

 

 

Sample temperature data from fiber-optic distributed temperature sensor deployed in the Shenandoah River.

Sample temperature data from fiber-optic distributed temperature sensor deployed in the Shenandoah River.

About Fiber Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing

FO-DTS measurements involve sending laser light along a fiber-optic cable. Photons interact with the molecular structure of the fibers, and the incident light scatters. Analysis of Raman backscatter for variation in optical power allows the user to estimate temperature. Analysis of Brillouin backscatter for variation in optical frequency allows the user to estimate temperature and strain.

Commercially available FO-DTS technology can achieve:

  • Continuous measurement over kilometers
  • 30 kilometers for each channel (some systems)
  • Spatial resolution of about 1 meter (depends on configuration)
  • Thermal resolution of about 0.01 degree Celsius (depends on configuration)
  • Temporal resolution of seconds to hours depending on the desired thermal precision

Spatial, thermal, and temporal resolution are mutually dependent, and depend on measurement configuration.

 

Selected USGS Publications on FO-DTS

Day-Lewis, F.D., Karam, H.N., Harvey, C.F., and Lane, J.W., Jr., 2006, Monitoring submarine groundwater discharge using a distributed temperature sensor, Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts [abs.]: EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 87, no. 52, Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract NS24A-02, Invited.

Day-Lewis, FD and Lane, J.W., Jr., 2006, Using a Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensor to Understand Ground-Water/Surface-Water Interaction: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Discipline - Wester Region Research Seminar Series, November 30, 2006 (video online at https://wwwrcamnl.wr.usgs.gov/wrdseminar/playwrd.htm?id=30nov2006).

Day-Lewis, FD, and Lane, J.W., Jr., 2006, Watershed-scale temperature monitoring of hydrologic processes [abs.]: Hydrogeophysics Workshop, Vancouver, British Columbia, July 31-August 2, 2006, Proceedings, Society of Exploration Geophysics.

Henderson, R.D., Day-Lewis, F.D., and Harvey, C.F., 2009, Investigation of aquifer-estuary interaction using wavelet analysis of fiber-optic temperature data: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 36, L06403, https://doi.org/10.1029/2008GL036926.

Lane, J.W., Jr., 2007, Using fiber-optic distributed temperature sensors to monitor groundwater and surface-water processes and interaction [abs.]in NGWA Ground Water Summit, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 29- May 30, 2007, Proceedings: Westerville, Ohio, National Ground Water Association.

Mwakanyamale, K., Slater, L., Day-Lewis, F.D., Elwaseif, M., Ntarlagiannis, D., and Johnson, C.D., 2012, Spatially variable stage-driven groundwater-surface water interaction inferred from time-frequency analysis of distributed temperature sensing data: Geophysical Research Letters, https://doi.org/10.1029/2011GL050824.

Slater, L.D., Ntarglagiannis, D., Day-Lewis, F.D., Mwakyanamale, K., Versteeg, R.J., Ward, A., Strickland, C., Johnson, C.D., and Lane, J.W., Jr., 2010, Use of electrical imaging and distributed temperature sensing methods to characterize surface water–groundwater exchange regulating uranium transport at the Hanford 300 Area, Washington: Water Resources Research, v.46, W10533, https://doi.org/10.1029/2010WR009110.