Non-contacting laser-based acousto-seismics at the laboratory scale: towards near-real-time monitoring of granular analogue models

J. Smits*, I. Vasconcelos, E. Willingshofer, F. Beekman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this work we present a novel, experimentally efficient set-up for performing non-contacting laser vibrometry on geologic materials and their analogues. We show it is possible to acoustically monitor a granular material experiment in real time compared to the typical timescale of analogue modelling experiments. We acquire non-contacting waveform data with consistently high signal-to-noise ratio. Compared to previously used standard contacting transducers, the novel joint use of sources and receivers that are both laser-based resulted in measured signals with improved waveforms and temporal bandwidths. These data acquisition improvements, in our case where surface waves are prominent in the data, enable enhanced multichannel surface wave processing, for example, in terms of reliable dispersion curve estimates. We find, given the high waveform fidelity of our acquisition system, that the observed surface waves are highly sensitive to relatively small changes in the medium's elastic properties, making them a demonstrably reliable to monitor any processes that affect elasticity in these models in near real time. As a demonstration, we continuously monitor a scaled analogue model containing granular glass beads. By continuously monitoring - that is, performing repeatable active-source acousto-seismic surveys at short time-lapse intervals - over a period of 10 hr, we find that an increase of relative humidity of 10 per cent can lead to as much as a factor of two increase in surface wave group velocities. Finally, we discuss future applications of the developed method by considering surface wave inversion for fault and stress monitoring during the deformation of a model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-495
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • Acoustic properties
  • Mechanics, theory, and modelling
  • Surface waves and free oscillations
  • Wave propagation


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