Sounding Out Scour

by Mark R. Foxworth, Manager; Oceaneering International Inc., Houston, TX,
Jimmy Reynolds, Sales Engr.; ORE International,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 12, Pg. 44-46

Document Type: Feature article


As engineers are aware, detection of bridge scour is the best protection. A method for monitoring scour during low, normal or high water flows would also help alleviate some of the ambiguity of creating scour regulation. Research on bridge scour has focused on clarifying aspects of scour evaluation procedure, which includes: training requirements, qualifications of inspectors, qualifications and use of divers, scour evaluation and analysis programs, equipment, and use of high-tech instruments. Recently, methods for conducting specialized underwater inspections have borrowed from technology that had been limited to offshore industries before. The latest development among echo sounders, for example, are multi-beam echo sounder systems, which have reduced much of the complexity of previously-used echo sounder systems, and have gained high precision by combining multiple beams in compact packages. The system provides a swath of the bottom, achieving 100% coverage, eliminating much of the interpolation required in single beam or sweep systems. Depending on the angle of the multi-beam transducer, a swath can be transmitted that provides anywhere from 1.5 to more than 7 times the water depth. This provides greater assurance of seeing all potential problem areas or features--possibly including scour at bridge footings.

Subject Headings: Beams | Scour | Water level | Regulated flow | Water flow | Bridge tests | Bridge-vehicle interaction | Training

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