Surveying for Scour

by Laurinda Bedingfield, (M.ASCE), Dir.; Geotech. Services, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Works, Boston, MA,
Vincent Murphy, (M.ASCE), Consulting Geophysicist; Weston Geophysical Corp., Westboro, MA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 11, Pg. 67-69

Document Type: Feature article


The public works engineer never knows exactly how many bridge piers and abutments are undermined by erosion due to scour. Massachusetts Department of Public Works needed a rapid method of surveying for scour damage, and has now successfully tested such a survey technique. After a 1987 spring flood, state divers sent to the Deerfield River Bridge at I-91 reported scour damage and an exposed footing at Pier 2 Southbound. A team from the Public Works Geotechnical Services used this reported damage to test the technique. Using off-the-shelf equipment, a fathometer and a side scan sonar, the team was able to locate the damaged area by transversing the area in a small boat, duplicating the diver's findings. The technique is a viable method of routinely checking a number of bridges quickly after a storm, assisting in setting priorities for further exploration by the state diving teams.

Subject Headings: Infrastructure | Scour | Bridge abutments | Geomatic surveys | Piers | Surveying methods | Bridges | Team building

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