Development of an acoustic emission waveguide-based system for monitoring of rock slope deformation mechanisms

2018-06-21T10:24:10Z (GMT) by Daniela Codeglia
Hundreds of thousands of landslides occur every year around the world impacting on people's lives. Monitoring techniques able to foresee imminent collapse and provide a warning in time useful for action to be taken are essential for risk reduction and disaster prevention. Acoustic emission (AE) is generated in soil and rock materials by rearrangement of particles during displacement or increasing damage in the microstructure preceding a collapse; therefore AE is appropriate for estimation of slope deformation. To overcome the high attenuation that characterise geological materials and thus to be able to monitor AE activity, a system called Slope ALARMS that makes use of a waveguide to transmit AE waves from a deforming zone to a piezoelectric transducer was developed. The system quantifies acoustic activity as Ring Down Count (RDC) rates. In soil applications RDC rates have been correlated with the rate of deformation, however, the application to rock slopes poses new challenges over the significance of the measured AE trends, requiring new interpretation strategies. In order to develop new approaches to interpret acoustic emission rates measured within rock slopes, the system was installed at two trial sites in Italy and Austria. RDC rates from these sites, which have been measured over 6 and 2.5 years respectively, are analysed and clear and recurring trends were identified. The comparison of AE trends with response from a series of traditional instruments available at the sites allowed correlation with changes in external slope loading and internal stress changes. AE signatures from the limestone slope at the Italian site have been identified as generated in response to variations in the groundwater level and snow loading. At the conglomerate slope in Austria, AE signatures include the detachment of small boulders from the slope surface caused by the succession of freeze-thaw cycles during winter time. Consideration was also given to laboratory testing of specific system elements and field experiments. A framework towards strategies to interpret measured acoustic emission trends is provided for the use of the system within rock slopes.