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Susan Frost Wins USGS Director’s Innovation Award for Sensor Development
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Susan Frost Wins USGS Director’s Innovation Award for Sensor Development

Susan Frost has won a United States Geological Survey (USGS) Director’s Innovation Award to develop a bio-inspired optical sensor for earthquake fault monitoring and will serve as a Co-I on the project. The research team will build a novel low-power, low-cost sensor based on the vision system of the common housefly. This bio-inspired optical sensor will be able to register very small movements in real time and could be deployed at many locations for measuring fault creep.

BACKGROUND: During an earthquake, a fault slips quickly, rapidly releasing accumulated strain in the Earth’s crust. Meters of displacement can occur in just a matter of seconds. However, in the time between earthquakes faults can also move slowly, so slowly that they do not cause any shaking. This “aseismic” deformation, or fault creep, can over time accumulate significant amounts of displacement, relieving strain on the fault and reducing the energy available to power future earthquakes. Thus, fault creep can significantly reduce the potential seismic hazard of a fault. However, identifying which parts of a fault are creeping, how much slip these regions have accommodated and, thus, how much the seismic hazard has changed, requires accurate measurements of small displacements at many locations along the fault. Due to the high cost of existing fault-monitoring equipment, current fault monitoring is less than desired for accurate modeling and earthquake monitoring.

Susan Frost has been developing a bio-inspired compound eye sensor through a Phase II NASA Aeronautics Research Institute Award. She recently teamed up with researchers at the USGS to develop a compound eye sensor for monitoring earthquake fault movement.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: This work was funded in part by the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), and the USGS Director’s Innovation Fund.

Contact: Susan Frost

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