Early detection of seepage-induced internal erosion using acoustic emission monitoring

2018-08-13T08:14:20Z (GMT) by T. Biller Alister Smith Neil Dixon
Techniques for monitoring water-retaining earth structures are currently limited in their capacity to detect seepage-induced internal erosion (e.g. suffusion) in its early stages, or before serious damage has occurred. Acoustic emission (AE) is widely used in many industries for non-destructive assessment of materials and systems, but despite its advantages it is seldom used in geotechnical engineering as the AE generated by particulate materials is highly complex and difficult to measure and interpret. This project aims to develop the interpretation of AE generated by seepage-induced internal instability phenomena. A continuous, real-time AE early warning system for detecting seepage erosion mechanisms and processes will enable safety-critical decisions to be made. Laboratory testing with a large permeameter apparatus is being used to characterise and quantify the AE generated by the hydromechanical behaviour of a range of internally unstable soils. Initial results show that key processes such as the internal movement of particles can be measured and interpreted using AE.