Continuous monitoring of the depth of the water‑mud interface using distributed acoustic sensing

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Current surveying techniques used by port authorities to estimate the nautical depth are limited in depth resolution and temporal resolution. Because of this, certain heavily occupied quay walls cannot be optimised in terms of utilisation. Therefore, a permanent continuous measuring system with a higher depth resolution is needed to optimise the occupation at these quay walls. We show how this could be achieved with distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) using fibre-optical cables.

We analyse recordings from a dual-frequency echo-sounder source along a standard communication optical fibre coiled vertically around a PVC pipe to represent vertical seismic profiling. This PVC pipe is placed inside a transparent plastic cylindrical tank which is partly filled with water and mud. This allows us to track the water-mud interface visually. We use a Silixa iDAS v2 and a Febus A1 DAS interrogator to convert the optical fibre into a seismic sensor. We use a wave generator to select the source frequency and an amplifier to amplify the output of the wave generator to a SIMRAD 38/200 COMBI C dual-frequency echo-sounder.

We identify standing waves and use them to make accurate depth estimates of the water-mud interface inside the column we measure. Due to the high apparent velocity, the standing waves are easy to identify in the time domain. Due to the constructive interference, standing waves also show the water-mud interface in a power spectral density plot. We demonstrate that these standing waves could be used with an on-demand permanent continuous measuring system using ambient noise sources.

Our laboratory experiment showed that DAS could be used to estimate the water-mud interface. In addition, we showed the potential for on-demand monitoring in ports and waterways using DAS. Furthermore, due to the low cost of optical fibres, and the possibility of utilising ambient noise sources, DAS could be used for continuous depth monitoring purposes in ports and waterways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2893-2899
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Fibre optics
  • Water-mud interface
  • Standing waves
  • Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS)


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