Graduate students Ruonan Ou and Peter Hubbard, from left, check on fiber optic cables installed beneath a paved road at Richmond Field Station. The cables are so sensitive that when a dog walks over the pavement, they can pick up tiny deformations in the road itself. “It’s like turning an entire street into a touchscreen,” says Hubbard. (Photo by Adam Lau)
The East Bay Municipal Utilities District, or EBMUD, provides water for 1.4 million people in a roughly 332-square-mile area on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, operating more than 4,000 miles of water pipelines in one of the most seismically active places in North America. The Hayward Fault, which produced one of the most destructive earthquakes in California history and may be ready for another, runs right down the middle of the entire length of the utility’s service area.
Until now, there’s been no way for EBMUD to monitor its underground network of pipelines. By the time the utility knows a pipe is stressed, it’s often too late to do anything about it. But new technology developed by Kenichi Soga, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has the potential to change that, allowing engineers to monitor for tension and compression in real time so they can fix stressed pipes before they break.
Read more about Distributed fiber optic sensing and how Soga is working with Caltrans: https://engineering.berkeley.edu/news/2021/04/coming-to-light/?fbclid=Iw...