An understanding of groundwater flow near drinking water extraction wells is crucial when it comes to avoiding well clogging and pollution. A promising new approach to groundwater flow monitoring is the deployment of a network of optical fibers with fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. In preparation for a field experiment, a laboratory scale aquifer was constructed to investigate the feasibility of FBG sensors for this application. Multiparameter FBG sensors were able to detect changes in temperature, pressure, and fiber shape with sensitivities influenced by the packaging. The first results showed that, in a simulated environment with a flow velocity of 2.9 m/d, FBG strain effects were more pronounced than initially expected. FBG sensors of a pressure-induced strain implemented in a spatial array could form a multiplexed sensor for the groundwater flow direction and magnitude. Within the scope of this research, key technical specifications of FBG interrogators for groundwater flow sensing were also identified.
Keywords: FBG interrogators; aquifer simulator; fiber Bragg grating; multiplexed temperature sensing; thermal tracer.