Researchers have recently made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of seismic monitoring by developing a prototype fiber optic gyroscope for high-resolution, real-time monitoring of ground rotations caused by earthquakes. The active volcanic area of Campi Flegrei in Naples, Italy has been the focus of this research, with the aim of advancing our understanding of seismic activity in highly populated regions. This innovative technology could potentially enhance risk assessment capabilities and lead to the development of improved early warning systems.

Saverio Avino, the leader of the research team from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Istituto Nazionale di Ottica (CNR-INO) in Italy, highlighted the significance of capturing both linear and rotational movements of the Earth’s surface during seismic events. While rotations are typically subtle and often overlooked, they offer valuable insights into the Earth’s internal dynamics and seismic sources. The team’s findings, published in the journal Applied Optics, provide initial observational data from the rotational sensor, which is based on a 2-kilometer long fiber-optic gyroscope.

The metropolitan city of Naples, home to around 3 million people and three active volcanoes, faces unique challenges when it comes to monitoring seismic and volcanic activity. The research team’s rotational sensor, integrated into the existing grid of multiparametric sensors in the region, has the potential to add a new dimension to the monitoring efforts. Danilo Galuzzo, a member of the team from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), emphasized the importance of measuring ground rotations in understanding volcanic earthquake signals and detecting changes in volcanic dynamics.

To accurately measure rotational movement during seismic events, the researchers developed a sophisticated gyroscope based on the Sagnac effect. This optical phenomenon allows for the detection of angular velocity by analyzing interference patterns in light traveling around a closed loop. By leveraging this technology, the team was able to achieve high-resolution measurements of ground rotations caused by earthquakes and volcanic activity.

While the current prototype gyroscope can only measure one directional component of rotation, there are plans to expand its capabilities by creating a three-axis gyroscope system. Luigi Santamaria Amato from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) highlighted the potential for combining multiple gyroscopes to capture all three components of rotation. As the resolution and stability of the system continue to improve, the researchers aim to establish a permanent ground rotation observatory in the Campi Flegrei area.

The development of fiber optic gyroscopes for monitoring ground rotations represents a significant advancement in seismic research and monitoring. By enhancing our understanding of seismic activity and volcanic phenomena, this technology has the potential to revolutionize risk assessment and early warning systems in geologically active regions. With ongoing advancements and future developments, the integration of advanced gyroscope technology into existing monitoring networks could pave the way for a more comprehensive understanding of Earth’s dynamics.

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