Earth Strain Measurements with a Laser Interferometer

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Science  16 Oct 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3955, pp. 296-303
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3955.296


The development of the laser as a source of coherent optical radiation has permitted the application of interferometric techniques to the problem of earth strain measurement. By use of this technology, an 800-meter laser strain meter has been developed which operates above the surface of the ground. The instrument has a strain least count of 10-10, requires no calibration, and has a flat and linear response from zero frequency to 1 megahertz. The linearity and large dynamic range of the laser strain meter offer unprecedented versatility in the recording of seismic strains associated with earthquakes and nuclear blasts. The extremely wide bandwidth opens new areas of the strain spectrum to investigation.

A key to the understanding of the state of stress of the earth and the association phenomona of tectonic activity and earthquakes is a knowledge of the spatial distribution of the earth strain. Measurements of secular strain and earth tides indicate that, even at these long periods, surface strain measurements are valid representations of earth strain at depth. The LSM thus provides a means of making crustal strain measurements at points selected for maximum geophysical interest and ultimately allow the mapping of strain field distributions.

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