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As populations increase, more and more people are living near volcanoes and seismic faults. Accurate and precise measurement of slow-moving and small strain transients preceding volcanic eruptions and earthquakes is critical to the protection of infrastructure and human lives. Silicon carbide (SiC), particularly in a three-layer stacked cubic crystalline form (3C-SiC), has gained increasing attention as a highly sensitive mechanical strain sensor. The EU-funded SiC nano for PicoGeo project is developing a novel ground strain measurement system for geohazard monitoring that exploits this unique material. It has the potential to detect strain with approximately 100 times greater sensitivity than current technology. Use of fibre lasers for all-optical closed-loop operation will enable electronic readout from locations remote to the sensor location.

Main objective

The goal of the project is the development of a radically new dynamic ground strain measurement technology with an ultra-high resolution of 10-12 that is about two order of magnitude better than the presently available technology. The new technology is based on combining the high performance 3C-SiC material with a high Young modulus (almost 3 times higher than silicon) that improves the sensibility of the actual strain sensor, with fiber lasers for novel all-optical closed-loop operation of the resonator.

This new sensor will strongly reduce the cost of the strain sensor and will promote a large impulse in the physics study of both the volcanic areas and of the seismogenic faults. Moreover, the small dimension and the cheap cost will allow to monitor a dense vertical profile of strain along a same hole. Therefore, the project outcomes will have direct implications in forecasting volcanic eruptions and thus improve volcano-seismic crisis management. At the end of the project a start-up of one innovative frontier laboratory for advanced monitoring of dynamic strain associated to volcanic and seismic processes will be done.

Updated project results can be found here.

Coordinator: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

Partners: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Novasic SA, Moverim Consulting Sprl, Helmholtz Zentrum potsdam Deutschesgeoforschungszentrum Gfz, Sisgeo Srl, Iraci Cappuccinello Antonino

IMM Contact person: Alberto Roncaglia

Funder under: European Commission H2020

2019-11-01 to 2023-10-31