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Acoustic emission monitoring of coastal slopes in north-east England, United Kingdom

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journal contribution
posted on 06.01.2017, 10:13 by Alister SmithAlister Smith, Neil DixonNeil Dixon, Roger Moore, Philip Meldrum
Acoustic emission (AE) monitoring of active waveguides (a steel tube with a granular backfill surround) installed through a slope can provide real-time warning of slope instability by quantifying increasing rates of movement (i.e. accelerations) in response to slope destabilising effects. The technique can also quantify decelerations in movement in response to stabilising effects (e.g. remediation or pore-water pressure dissipation). This paper details the AE monitoring approach and presents results from a field trial that compares AE measurements with continuous subsurface deformation measurements. The results demonstrate that AE monitoring provides continuous information on slope displacement rates with high temporal resolution. Case studies are presented where the AE technique is being used to monitor coastal slopes at Filey and Scarborough in North Yorkshire, UK, to inform on-going risk assessments for these slopes. The results demonstrate that the AE approach can successfully be used to monitor slopes with relatively deep shear surfaces (> 14 m); however, they also show that potentially contaminating AE can be generated by ground water flowing through the active waveguide from relatively high permeability strata in response to rainfall events.


This paper is an output of Working Group 2 of EU COST Action TU1202 –Impacts of climate change on engineered slopes for infrastructure. TU1202 comprises four working groups, WG1–Slope numerical modelling, WG2– Field experimentation and monitoring, WG3–Soil/vegetation/climate interactions, WG4 –Slope risk assessment. This work was funded by OST Action TU1202 through the EU Horizon 2020 programme.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology






SMITH, A. al., 2017. Acoustic emission monitoring of coastal slopes in north-east England, United Kingdom. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 50 (3), pp. 239-244.


© Geological Society


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