Development of a low cost acoustic emission early warning system for slope instability

Slope failures world-wide cause many thousands of deaths each year and damage built environment infrastructure. There is a clear need for low cost instrumentation that can provide an early warning of slope instability to enable evacuation of vulnerable people and timely repair and maintenance of critical infrastructure. Current instrumentation systems are either too expensive for wide scale use or have technical limitations. An approach, Assessment of Landslides using Acoustic Real-time Monitoring Systems (ALARMS), has been developed and demonstrated through research. An approach has been developed using measurement of acoustic emission generated during the onset of slope failure to provide quantitative information on slope displacement rates. Research is in progress to develop low cost acoustic sensors. A unitary acoustic emission slope displacement rate sensor has been designed and is being trialled in an active landslide. Continuous monitored acoustic emission rates show comparable trends to displacement rates measured using an inclinometer. Acoustic emission increase after rainfall events and this is considered to indicate increased displacement rates.