Acoustic Emission Monitoring of Soil Stability

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

Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1978, Vol. 104, Issue 5, Pg. 571-582

Document Type: Journal Paper


Seventeen sites monitored for acoustic emission are described, including twelve earth dams, two surcharge fills, two embankments and one man-made reservoir where seepage was detected. The results from all sites lead to the following generalizations. Soil masses can deform and consequently will produce acoustic emissions which exceed background noise levels. Soil masses which generate no acoustic emissions are probably not deforming, and are in a state of equilibrium. Soil masses generating moderate levels of acoustic emissions (10 counts/min to 100 counts/min) are marginally stable and require continued monitoring. Soil masses generating high levels of acoustic emissions (100 counts/min to 500 counts/min) are actively deforming and unstable, requiring immediate remedial action. Soil masses generating very high levels of acoustic emissions (greater than 500 counts/min) are in, or are very near a failure state.

Subject Headings: Soil deformation | Acoustic techniques | Emissions | Soil stabilization | Earthfill dams | Reservoirs | Seepage | Equilibrium

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