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FO-DTS > Waquoit Bay

Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts


In 2006 the USGS Office of Groundwater, Branch of Geophysics (OGW BG) conducted a technology demonstration and evaluation project in Waquoit Bay, East Falmouth, Massachusetts, to evaluate the use of fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing (FO-DTS). In this project, the USGS used FO-DTS to investigate aquifer-estuary interaction by monitoring submarine groundwater discharge in Waquoit Bay. OGW BG conducted the project at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in cooperation with scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and with support from the USGS Groundwater Resources Program.

The results of the demonstration and evaluation project indicate that high spatial and temporal resolution of thermal variations is possible with FO-DTS. In addition, the FO-DTS results were consistent with direct measurements of submarine groundwater discharge.

During the project, multiple equipment systems were used, and a variety of data sets were collected in addition to FO-DTS, including direct temperature sensors at discrete points, seepage measurements, and pore-fluid salinity measurements. Previous research conducted by MIT scientists at the site also provided important background information.

The FO-DTS cable was deployed over an 80- by 60-meter area just offshore. As configured, the resolution along the cable was approximately:

To identify submarine groundwater discharge into the Bay, data were analyzed for:

Photo Gallery

 [Figure 1 - Photo: Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve sign]
Figure 1. The Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is located in Massachusetts.
 [Figure 2 - Photo: View of Waquoit Bay study area]
Figure 2. The study area is located just off shore in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts.
 [Figure 3 - Photo: Scientists tie rope to cable.]
Figure 3. Charles Harvey (MIT) and Fred Day-Lewis (USGS) prepare the fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing system. To relieve strain on the cable, it was taped to a heavy rope.
 [Figure 4 - Photo: Scientist operates laptop computer]
Figure 4. Hannan Karam (MIT) connects the distributed temperature sensor to a laptop computer. This allows temperature data to be monitored real-time and (or) saved and analyzed later.
 [Figure 5 - Photo: Scientist attaches float to cable.]
Figure 5. Hanan Karam (MIT) attaches floats to the cable and rope to help with the deployment.
 [Figure 6 - Photo: Scientist in kayak toes cable in Bay.]
Figure 6. Fred Day-Lewis (USGS) deploys the cable off shore.
 [Figure 7 - Photo: Scientists prepare seepage meters on beach.]
Figure 7. Seepage meters being prepared for installation by MIT graduate students.
 [Figure 8 - Photo: View of seepage meters and pipes installed offshore.]
Figure 8. Seepage meters and salinity measurements at pipes along the cable provided ground truth.


For More Information

For more information about the Waquoit Bay FO-DTS project, contact Fred Day-Lewis ( or 860-487-7402 x21) at the OGW, Branch of Geophysics.

This project was conducted with support from the USGS Groundwater Resources Program.

Collaborators & Cooperators


Day-Lewis, F.D., Karam, H.N., Harvey, C.F., and Lane, J.W., Jr., 2006, Monitoring submarine ground-water discharge using a distributed temperature sensor, Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts [abs.]: EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 87, no. 52, Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract NS24A-02, Invited.

Day-Lewis, FD and Lane, J.W., Jr., 2006, Using a Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensor to Understand Ground-Water/Surface-Water Interaction: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Discipline - Wester Region Research Seminar Series, November 30, 2006 (video online at mms://

Henderson, R.D., Day-Lewis, F.D., and Harvey, C.F., 2009, Investigation of aquifer-estuary interaction using wavelet analysis of fiber-optic temperature data: Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L06403, doi:10.1029/2008GL036926.

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