Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new sensor for the scour (erosion of soil around structures) potential of soils. This “in situ scour evaluation probe” is designed to prevent disastrous scour related situations, from unstable bridges to levees.
Scour has been linked to approximately 60 percent of the bridge failures in the United States, as documented by the Federal Highway Administration.
“The ‘in situ scour evaluation probe’ (ISEP) is the first technology that allows technicians in the field to measure the scour potential of soils without the need for excavation,” says Dr. Mo Gabr, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the new device. “Previous technologies required engineers to take samples and process them in a lab.”
The probe utilizes a water jet to burrow a hole into the soil. Researchers can then track the rate at which the water displaces the soil to determine the scour rate.
Researchers can also manipulate the velocity and flow rate of the water to simulate various natural events – from normal stream flow to hurricane-induced surges.
This new scour assessment sensor technology will allow for more frequent, more effective scour protection analysis.