DOMINO: Dikes and Debris Flows Monitoring by Novel Optical Fiber Sensors

Project presentation

Luca Palmieri
Projects  Partner and Institution:

University of Padova, Italy
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
University of Alcalà, Spain
National Council of Research, Italy

Key words: dike; debris flow; fiber optic sensor; distributed monitoring; pressure; ground vibration

Floods are among the most disruptive natural events threatening our Society. Just in Europe and in the last decade, floods have killed more than 1000 people and caused damages exceeding 4.5 billion Euros. Due to the foreseen increase in extreme weather events and to the rapid socio-economic developments in vulnerable locations, the water related hazards, such as dike failures and debris flows, are growing rapidly. As testified in the "7th Environment Action Programme", the European Commission is well aware of these risks and of the need to face them efficiently with an integrated approach. Strategies to cope these threats range from reinforcing civil structures, such as dikes and drainage channels, to carefully planning land use, to implementing effective monitoring tools and early warning systems. In this perspective, project DOMINO (Dike and Debris Flow Monitoring by Novel Optical Fiber Sensors) aims to develop novel optical fiber sensors for the monitoring of dikes and debris flows, to be eventually used in disaster prevention and emergency management.
With more than one billion kilometers installed around the globe, optical fibers are known to be the backbone of the Internet and of worldwide communications. Less known is the use of optical fibers as sensors of different physical parameters, as mechanical deformation and temperature. With respect to traditional sensors, optical fibers offer several advantages including easiness of remote operation and intrinsic robustness to extreme conditions. Most remarkably, optical fibers enable “distributed sensing”, in which a several kilometers long cable can act as a concatenation of thousands of independent sensors. These very unique characteristics make optical fibers the sensors of choice to monitor large structures or sites, just like dikes and channels or ravines along which debris flows may develop.
DOMINO will exploit optical fibers to develop a novel distributed ground vibration sensor, tailored to the monitoring of debris flows, and novel pressure sensors, to monitor dike stability. The complementary competences needed to succeed in this goal are well represented by the proponent Team, made of two units with experience in optical fiber sensors (namely, the University of Padova, Italy, and the University of Alcala, Spain) and two units with experience in geo-hydrology (namely, the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, and the Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection, CNR, Italy). Beside the scientific activity, the Team will contribute also to the public awareness by pervasive dissemination actions and constant involvement of the relevant authorities.

Project structure

DOMINO is organized in 6 working packages as listed below:
WP0 "Coordination"
WP1 "Distributed fiber optic sensors"
WP2 "Quasi-distributed fiber optic sensors"
WP3 "Geophysical numerical modelling"
WP4 "Small- and large-scale physical models and tests"
WP5 "Communication and dissemination"

The project begin with a detailed modelling and analysis of the phenomena to be monitored; to this aim numerical models of dike seepage and debris flows are implemented. This first phase allows to accurately define the specifications that the sensors will have to meet in terms of sensitivity, limit of detection, accuracy, sensing range, spatial resolution, distance range and temporal response. This phase will be fundamental to the design of the DVS, QDPS and DPS systems. The sensors will be tested both in small- and large-scale test beds; small-scale laboratory tests will assist sensors development and will assess their specifications; large-scale facilities will verify their use and performances in the field. The numerical models will be used also for the interpretation of experimental data, and will allow the definition of data analysis algorithms to estimate specific physical properties of the events. Stakeholders will be constantly involved for the whole duration of the project; their feedback is crucial for the accurate focusing of the project activity, avoiding that impractical or badly tailored solutions might be pursued. At the same time, the research Team will inform the stakeholders about the new technologies and their potentials, contributing to increase and diffuse the awareness about FOSs and their use in the characterization and protection from geo-hydrological extreme events.

The main outcomes of DOMINO will be a fiber-optic distributed vibration sensor for the monitoring of debris flows, and fiber-optic distributed and quasi-distributed pressure sensors for the monitoring of dikes and the characterization of debris flows. The following milestones will be achieved/released during the project execution ("Mxx" indicate the delivery month):
MS1 - Definition of specifications for the sensors. (M9)
MS2 - Release of numerical model for dike hydrology (M9)
MS3 - Release of numerical model for debris-flows seismic activity (M9)
MS4 - Choice of the DPS technology. (M12)
MS5 - Release of the small-scale test bed for DVS testing. (M12)
MS6 - Release of the DVS system. (M18)
MS7 - Release of the small-scale test bed for QDPS and DPS testing. (M18)
MS8 - Release of the QDPS system. (M21)
MS9 - Release of the DPS system. (M27)
MS10 - Dike monitoring large-scale tests are in execution (M30)
MS11 - Debris-flow monitoring large-scale tests are in execution (M30)

References coordinator and  leaders of  each WP:

WP0 "Coordination", Luca Palmieri
WP1 "Distributed fiber optic sensors", Miguel Gonzalez-Herraez
WP2 "Quasi-distributed fiber optic sensors", Luca Palmieri
WP3 "Geophysical numerical modelling", Thom Bogaard
WP4 "Small- and large-scale physical models and tests", Alessandro Pasuto
WP5 "Communication and dissemination", Andrea Galtarossa

Contact Point for  Communication/Dissemination activities:
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Contact Point for Open Data/Open Access activities:
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