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Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 2, issue 2
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 275–288, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2-275-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 275–288, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2-275-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 27 Nov 2013

Research article | 27 Nov 2013

Automated field detection of rock fracturing, microclimate, and diurnal rock temperature and strain fields

K. Warren1, M.-C. Eppes2, S. Swami3, J. Garbini1, and J. Putkonen4 K. Warren et al.
  • 1UNC Charlotte, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001, USA
  • 2UNC Charlotte, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001, USA
  • 3UNC Charlotte, Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001, USA
  • 4Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering, 101 Leonard Hall, 81 Cornell St. – Stop 8358, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202-8358, USA

Abstract. The rates and processes that lead to non-tectonic rock fracture on Earth's surface are widely debated but poorly understood. Few, if any, studies have made the direct observations of rock fracturing under natural conditions that are necessary to directly address this problem. An instrumentation design that enables concurrent high spatial and temporal monitoring resolution of (1) diurnal environmental conditions of a natural boulder and its surroundings in addition to (2) the fracturing of that boulder under natural full-sun exposure is described herein. The surface of a fluvially transported granite boulder was instrumented with (1) six acoustic emission (AE) sensors that record micro-crack associated, elastic wave-generated activity within the three-dimensional space of the boulder, (2) eight rectangular rosette foil strain gages to measure surface strain, (3) eight thermocouples to measure surface temperature, and (4) one surface moisture sensor. Additionally, a soil moisture probe and a full weather station that measures ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, insolation, and precipitation were installed adjacent to the test boulder. AE activity was continuously monitored by one logger while all other variables were acquired by a separate logger every 60 s. The protocols associated with the instrumentation, data acquisition, and analysis are discussed in detail. During the first four months, the deployed boulder experienced almost 12 000 AE events, the majority of which occur in the afternoon when temperatures are decreasing. This paper presents preliminary data that illustrates data validity and typical patterns and behaviors observed. This system offers the potential to (1) obtain an unprecedented record of the natural conditions under which rocks fracture and (2) decipher the mechanical processes that lead to rock fracture at a variety of temporal scales under a range of natural conditions.

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