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Monitoring scour at bridge foundations

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Scour, which results from the erosion of the foundations supporting bridge piers and abutments due to the action of fast flowing water, has been identified as one of the main reasons for failure of bridges all over the world. Bridge owners seek reliable and cost-effective techniques that give warning of impending collapse and also allow them to rank the relative risk and extent of scour in their bridge stock. Various techniques have been used to monitor bridge scour, ranging from scuba divers using crude depth measuring instrumentation to high-tech sonar and radar-based systems. However, there are a number of challenges associated with all of these monitoring techniques. Many only measure scour depth at a single location and/or are susceptible to damage from debris in the fast-flowing water, whilst others are labour-intensive and expensive. Only some provide real-time data or information on the extent and depth of scour. Hence, it is a challenging task for the bridge engineers to choose the most appropriate and efficient technique for monitoring scour of their bridge infrastructure. This presentation reviews a number of existing scour monitoring techniques and presents a case study of one of the more promising of these techniques.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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