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Real-time Field Monitoring of Levees within Comprehensive Health Assessment Framework, Mar 14

Assessing the health of and maintaining civil infrastructure has been an increased concern worldwide in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the summer 2007 flood events in the United Kingdom. The variability of properties within geotechnical systems makes predictions of soil behavior extremely difficult, especially when soil models are not calibrated with field-measured performance. Accordingly, a need has arisen for a system capable of in situ, real-time monitoring of critical levees, embankments, and other earthen structures. MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)-based in-place inclinometer systems, such as Measurand’s ShapeAccelArray or SAA, have been developed in response to this need. This system is now being further developed to include digitally integrated pore pressure measurement in the form of vibrating wire piezometers equipped with microprocessors (called SAAPs). The SAAPs are able to convert vibrating wire data to digital data downhole and easily integrate into the SAA system. In situ testing was conducted in a levee in England subjected to significant tidal loading (up to six meters of fluctuation during spring tides) through collaboration with the European Union’s UrbanFlood project. In addition to the SAAs and SAAPs installed in three sections of the levee, the site was also instrumented with other sensors from Alert Solutions and TenCate, providing values for comparison. The likelihood of this levee to experience deformation and the density of instrumentation installed in the bank made this the ideal location to test the new SAAP system. The additional insight into subsurface behavior provided by the SAAPs is a component of a multi-scale health assessment framework for effective management of flood-control infrastructure. Preliminary testing indicates the suitability of this multi-scale framework and it will be further implemented in New Orleans, LA in 2012.