Acoustic Emission Behavior of Granular Soils

by Robert M. Koerner, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Drexel Univ., Philadelphia, Pa.,
John W. Curran, Grad. Research Asst.; Physics Dept., Drexel Univ., Philadelphia, Pa.,
W. Martin McCabe, Grad. Research Asst.; Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Drexel Univ., Philadelphia, Pa.,
Arthur E. Lord, Jr., Prof. of Physics; Drexel Univ., Philadelphia, Pa.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 7, Pg. 761-773

Document Type: Journal Paper


The study is subdivided into three phases: granular soils, cohesive soils, and field monitoring; the present paper addresses itself to the first phase of the overall project. Acoustic emissions are internally generated sounds that occur when a soil sample is stressed and subsequently deforms. The major conclusion of this research is that the acoustic emission response is directly related to this deformation and can be used in lieu of same in both laboratory and field situations. Other significant results as related to granular soils are the following: (1)Acoustic emission wave velocities are from 400fps-800fps (120m/s-240m/s); (2)acoustic emission frequencies range from 500 Hz - 8 kHz; (3)acoustic emission attenuation is strongly dependent on frequency and can be as high as 300dB/ft (10 dB/cm) at 16 kHz; (4)angular particles produce more emissions than rounded ones; (5)well-graded soils emit more acoustic emissions than poorly graded soils; and (6)particle size is not significant in the acoustic emission response.

Subject Headings: Soil properties | Granular soils | Acoustic techniques | Material properties | Emissions | Field tests | Soil deformation | Wave velocity

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