Picking up bad vibes to gauge bridge health

May 02, 2007

By monitoring changes in vibrations of bridges it is possible to identify hidden cracks and fractures, according to a Queensland University of Technology researcher.

QUT engineering researcher Henry Shih said variations in bridge vibrations of a bridge could be a telling sign of its structural "health".

"It's not always possible to see damage to a bridge, but using vibrations it is possible to 'see' what can't be seen," he said.

"Changes in the physical properties of a structure, such as cracks and fractures in a bridge, will cause changes in its vibration. By monitoring these vibrations it is possible to detect any changes which may indicate bridge damage."

QUT has undertaken research in bridge vibration for more than 10 years and this has involved monitoring vibrations in some of Brisbane's bridges.

As a part of this on-going research program Mr Shih will develop models to assess the damage in certain types of bridges.

Mr Shih said given Brisbane was a river city linked by a criss-cross of bridges, it was important to continuously monitor the "health" of these structures.

"Bridges form an important part of civil infrastructure and are normally designed to have long life spans. But changes in load characteristics, deterioration with age, environmental influences and random actions may cause damage to bridges," he said.

"Continuously monitoring the health of bridges will enable the early identification of distress and allow appropriate retrofitting in order to avoid bridge failure or collapse."

Mr Shih's research will use computer modelling to test the vibration characteristics of beam type and truss type bridges before and after damage

"As part of the study we will install sensors to monitor the vibrations of simulated bridge models in the laboratory. We will then calibrate the computer models to ensure the data is accurate," he said.

"Just like an electrocardiogram can measure the health of a heart, by monitoring vibration characteristics we can evaluate the health of a bridge."

He said by inputting the data into a computer modelling system it was possible to assess whether or not the bridge was in distress or at risk of failure or collapse.

"We are going to be able to rate how healthy the bridge is and also monitor its deterioration over time."

Source: Queensland University of Technology

Explore further: Researchers propose network-based evaluation tool to assess relief operations feasibility

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Great Lakes become nearly covered with ice

Feb 15, 2014

From the bridge of the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, northern Lake Huron looks like a vast, snow-covered field dotted with ice slabs as big as boulders—a battleground for the icebreaker's 58-member crew ...

Everyone starts small: How metals learn to behave

Feb 12, 2014

On Wednesday, February 12, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Dennis Kochmann will explain how controlling a material's complex structural details from the atomic scale up can affect its behavior in everyday ...

Vibrations reveal state of bridge ropes

Jan 10, 2014

The new ResoBridge method has been developed to check bridges during running traffic within one day. It measures the vibrations of the tensioning ropes of externally prestressed concrete bridges. The test ...

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

6 hours ago

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

(Phys.org) —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...