Tidal calibration of borehole strain meters: Removing the effects of small-scale inhomogeneity


  • R. H. G. Hart,

  • M. T. Gladwin,

  • R. L. Gwyther,

  • D. C. Agnew,

  • F. K. Wyatt


We investigate the estimation of Earth strain from borehole strain meter data in a study of tidal calibration of the Gladwin borehole tensor strain meter (BTSM) at Piñon Flat. Small-scale geological inhomogeneity is one of several effects examined that cross couple remote areal/shear strain into measured areal/shear strain. A methodology is developed for incorporating cross coupling into the strain meter calibration. Using the measured strain tides from the colocated laser strain meter (LSM) as a reference, we show that calibration of the BTSM with cross coupling removes systematic errors of up to 30% in the borehole strain meter tides. This calibration accurately relates the BTSM measurements to strains at the scale length of the LSM, about 1 km. The calibration technique provides a solution to a major criticism of all short-baseline strain measurements, namely, that tectonic strains are not representatively sampled due to small-scale inhomogeneities. The technique removes errors potentially greater than 50% in observed strain offsets from fault slip, permitting improved constraint of slip mechanisms. We show that current theoretical estimates of strain tides in the instrument locality are not yet of sufficient accuracy for cross-coupled calibration. Comparison of theoretical tides with measurements from the LSM suggest that at least half of the error is in the ocean load tide estimates.