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Proceedings Paper

Nondestructive determination of pile tip elevation using modal analysis
Author(s): Mary L. Hughes; Glenn J. Rix; Laurence J. Jacobs
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Paper Abstract

Pile tip elevations are unknown for nearly half of Georgia's 14,500 bridges. Since the length of a pile is directly related to its capacity, and ultimately, to a bridge's load capacity, the need for a straightforward, effective, and inexpensive method to determine pile embedment lengths is apparent. If the top of the pile is exposed and free to be impacted and instrumented, the task is relatively simple. The exposed pile top is impacted axially, and the resulting longitudinal wave motion is monitored and used to calculate the pile lengths. However, such piles rarely exist in bridge structures, and the more common case is that the tops of the piles are cast into the bent cap. This lack of access poses a challenging problem when trying to nondestructively ascertain the length of pile that is embedded in the surrounding soil. Although soil borings and other intrusive tests are capable of determining pile tip elevations, the time and cost of performing these tests on a large number of bridges is prohibitive. The research project described here uses flexural waves, induced by exciting piles laterally, to determine the unknown embedment lengths. Modal analysis techniques are employed to quantify the difference in modal characteristics (natural frequencies, damping, and mode shapes) of piles with differing lengths, to create a modal model of the system, and finally to back-calculate the unknown pile embedment lengths.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 March 1998
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3400, Structural Materials Technology III: An NDT Conference, (31 March 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.300126
Show Author Affiliations
Mary L. Hughes, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States)
Glenn J. Rix, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States)
Laurence J. Jacobs, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3400:
Structural Materials Technology III: An NDT Conference
Ronald D. Medlock; David C. Laffrey, Editor(s)

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