Critical insights for advanced bridge scour detection using the natural frequency

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Scour around bridge foundations is regarded as one of the predominant causes of bridge failures. The concept of vibration-based real-time bridge scour detection has been explored in recent years by investigating the change in the natural frequency spectrum of a bridge or a bridge component with respect to the scour depth. Despite the progress, significant issues still remain unsolved in the application of this concept. This paper investigates three unsolved issues in the current framework of scour detection using the natural frequency spectrum: the physical meaning of the measured predominant natural frequency, the location of sensor installation, and the influence of the shape of scour holes, which are easily neglected but critical to the further implementations of the natural frequency spectrum-based bridge scour detection. Firstly, in-depth discussions of these three major issues were made separately by numerically modeling the scour progression of a typical and documented laboratory test. Laboratory tests were then performed to validate the conclusions made in the discussions. It was found that for an eigenproblem of the system with soil-structure interaction, the physical meaning of the natural frequency obtained from modal analysis can be understood by comparing the modal natural frequency with the natural frequency calculated from the dynamic response of the test component in that system. The results also verified that the obtained predominant natural frequency of the pier body greatly varies with the location of the pier body where a sensor is mounted for signal pickup. The shape of the scour hole affects the predominant natural frequency of the pier, causing difficulties in practical measurements. To address such a problem, a new criterion was proposed to identify the depth of unsymmetrical scour holes for the first time, which is of practical significance to advance the natural frequency spectrum-based scour detection framework.

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© 2017 Elsevier. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsv.2016.06.039

Publication Title

Journal of Sound Vibration