Observations of surface deformation are essential for understanding a wide range of geophysical problems, including earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and glaciers. Current geodetic technologies, such as global positioning system (GPS), interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), borehole and laser strainmeters, are costly and limited in their temporal or spatial resolutions. Here we present a new type of strainmeters based on the coaxial cable Bragg grating (CCBG) sensing technology that provides cost-effective strain measurements. Two CCBGs are introduced into the geodetic strainmeter: one serves as a sensor to measure the strain applied on it, and the other acts as a reference to detect environmental noises. By integrating the sensor and reference signals in a mixer, the environmental noises are minimized and a lower mixed frequency is obtained. The lower mixed frequency allows for measurements to be taken with a portable spectrum analyzer, rather than an expensive spectrum analyzer or a vector network analyzer (VNA). Analysis of laboratory experiments shows that the strain can be measured by the CCBG sensor, and the portable spectrum analyzer can make measurements with the accuracy similar to the expensive spectrum analyzer, whose relative error to the spectrum analyzer R3272 is less than ±0.4%. The outputs of the geodetic strainmeter show a linear relationship with the strains that the CCBG sensor experienced. The measured sensitivity of the geodetic strainmeter is about −0.082 kHz/με; it can cover a large dynamic measuring range up to 2%, and its nonlinear errors can be less than 5.3%.
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