EGU23-5851, updated on 27 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Measuring snow and avalanche properties using acoustic and seismic distributed fiber optic sensing

Alexander Prokop, Nicola P. Agostinetti, and Bernhard Graseman
Alexander Prokop et al.
  • University of Vienna, Department of Geology, Vienna, Austria (

Since 2012 we monitor avalanche activity using distributed acoustic and seismic fiber optic sensing at our avalanche test area at Lech am Arlberg, Austria. The method is based on an optical time domain reflectometer system that detects seismic vibrations and acoustic signals on a fiber optic cable that can have a length of up to 30 km in 80 cm resolution. While in the first years we focused on successfully developing an operational avalanche detection system that is able to tell in real time reliably when an avalanche was triggered and what the size of the avalanche is, we now present our investigations of the seismic signals to measure snow properties such as snow depth and avalanche properties such as flow behavior. Our test in winter 2022 recorded by blasting triggered avalanches and during data post processing we extracted seismic guided waves. We discuss methods for extracting information from guided waves for measuring snow depth, which was verified against spatial snow depth measurements from terrestrial laser scanning. Analyzing the seismic signals of avalanches with run-out distances ranging from a few metres to approximately 250 m allows us to differentiate between wet and snow avalanches, which is discussed in the context of avalanche dynamics.

How to cite: Prokop, A., Agostinetti, N. P., and Graseman, B.: Measuring snow and avalanche properties using acoustic and seismic distributed fiber optic sensing, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5851,, 2023.