On the application of fiber optic gyroscopes for detection of seismic rotations

Alexander Velikoseltsev, Karl Ulrich Schreiber, Alexander Yankovsky, Jon Paul R. Wells, Alexander Boronachin, Anna Tkachenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In recent years, the measurement of rotational components of earthquake-induced ground motion became a reality due to high-resolution ring laser gyroscopes. As a consequence of the fact that they exploit the Sagnac effect, these devices are entirely insensitive to translational motion and are able to measure the rotation rate with high linearity and accuracy over a wide frequency band. During the last decade, a substantial number of earthquakes were recorded by the large ring lasers located in Germany, New Zealand, and USA, and the subsequent data analysis demonstrated reliability and consistency of the results with respect to theoretical models. However, most of the observations recorded teleseismic events in the far-field. The substantial mass and the size of these active interferometers make their near-field application difficult. Therefore, the passive counterparts of ring lasers, the fiber optic gyros can be used for seismic applications where the mobility is more important than extreme precision. These sensors provide reasonable accuracy and are small in size, which makes them perfect candidates for strong motion applications. The other advantage of fiber optic gyroscopes is that if the earthquake is local and shallow (like one occurred early this year at Canterbury, New Zealand), the large ring lasers simply do not have the dynamic range-the effect is far too large for these instruments. In this paper, we analyze a typical commercially available tactical grade fiber optic gyroscope (VG-951) with respect to the seismic rotation measurement requirements. The initial test results including translation and upper bounds of seismic rotation sensitivity are presented. The advantages and limitations of tactical grade fiber optic gyroscope as seismic rotation sensor are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-637
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Seismology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Fiber optic gyroscope
  • Rotational ground motion
  • Rotational seismology


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