Nondestructive Method for Length Estimation of Pile Foundations Through Effective Dispersion Analysis of Reflections

  • Vivek Samu
  • Murthy GuddatiEmail author


Motivated by the important problem of unknown foundations, a nondestructive evaluation technique, named effective dispersion analysis of reflections (EDAR), is developed for estimating embedded depth of pile foundations. EDAR testing involves laterally exciting the pile with the hammer and measuring the accelerations at two other points on the pile. The novelty of EDAR comes from the processing these signals; unlike existing methods, EDAR accurately captures the effect of physical dispersion of the waves as they propagate in the pile, and the reflections from the pile tip. The key to data processing is the EDAR plot, which is a plot of phase difference between the two responses as a function of newly introduced effective wavenumber that encapsulates the wave dispersion characteristics. The methodology is easy to use in that a simple formula can convert the oscillatory characteristics of EDAR plot to the unknown embedded depth. This paper contains the derivation of the underlying formulation followed by verification with synthetic models and validation in laboratory settings, resulting in less than 5% error in embedded length.


Unknown foundation Pile Length estimation Flexural waves Reflection 



We thank the Alaska Department of Transportation (Mike Knapp and Hiram Henry) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (Mohammed Mulla) for funding and their continued support of the EDAR development. We also thank Mervyn Kowalsky and Diego Aguirre for allowing us to perform EDAR tests on the piles installed for their project at North Carolina State University.


  1. 1.
    Olson, L.D., Jalinoos, F., Aouad, M.F.: Determination of unknown subsurface bridge foundations, (NCHRP 21-5 interim report summary). In: Geotech. Eng. Noteb. Issuance GT-16. Fed. Highw. Adm. Washington, DC. (1998)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mclemore, S., Zendegui, S., Whiteside, J., Sheppard, M., Gosselin, M., Demir, H., Passe, P., Hayden, M.: Unknown Foundation Bridges Pilot Study. Fed. Highw. Adm. Florida Dep Transp., Tallahassee (2010)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Zhang, J.-Y., Chen, L.-Z., Zhu, J.: Theoretical basis and numerical simulation of parallel seismic test for existing piles using flexural wave. Soil Dyn. Earthq. Eng. 84, 13–21 (2016). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Coe, J.T., Kermani, B.: Comparison of Borehole Ultrasound and borehole radar in evaluating the length of two unknown bridge foundations. DFI J. -J. Deep Found. Inst. 10, 8–24 (2016). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Niederleithinger, E.: Improvement and extension of the parallel seismic method for foundation depth measurement. Soils Found. 52, 1093–1101 (2013). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lo, K.F., Ni, S.H., Huang, Y.H., Zhou, X.M.: Measurement of unknown bridge foundation depth by parallel seismic method. Exp. Tech. 33, 23–27 (2009). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sack, D.A., Slaughter, S.H., Olson, L.D.: Combined measurement of unknown foundation depths and soil properties with nondestructive evaluation methods, pp. 76–80. Transp. Res. Rec. J. Transp. Res. Board, Tallahassee (2004)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hossain, M.S., Khan, M.S., Hossain, J., Kibria, G., Taufiq, T., Khan, M.S.: Evaluation of unknown foundation depth using different NDT methods. J. Perform. Constr. Facil. 27, 209–214 (2013). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Levy, J.F.: Sonic pulse method of testing Cast-in-Situ concrete piles. Ground Eng. 3, 17–19 (1970)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Davis, A.G., Dunn, C.S.: CEBTP.: from theory to field experience with the non-destructive vibration testing of piles. Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. 57, 571–593 (1974). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rausche, F., Goble, G.G., Likins, G.E.: Dynamic determination of pile capacity. J. Geotech. Eng. 111, 367–383 (1985). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Chan, H.F.C.: Non-destructive testing of concrete piles using the sonic echo and transient shock methods. Diss. Univ. Edinburgh. (1987)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lin, Y., Sansalone, M., Carino, N.J.: Impact-echo response of concrete shafts. Geotech. Test. J. GTJODJ. 14, 121–137 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hussein, M., Wright, W., Edge, B.: Low strain dynamic testing of wood piles supporting an existing pier. In: Structures Congress XII, pp. 940–945 (1994)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Davis, A.G.: Nondestructive evaluation of existing deep foundations. J. Perform. Constr. Facil. 9, 57–74 (1995). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Briaud, J.-L., Briaud, J.-L., Ballouz, M., Nasr, G., Buchanan, S.J.: Defect and length predictions by ndt methods for nine bored piles. In: Deep Foundations 2002: An International Perspectives Theory, Design, Construction and Performance, pp. 173–192 (2002)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jozi, B., Dackermann, U., Braun, R., Li, J., Samali, B.: Application and improvement of conventional stress-wave-based non-destructive testing methods for the condition assessment of in-service timber utility poles. In: Australasian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials (2014)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rashidyan, S.: Characterization of unknown bridge foundations. Diss. Univ. New Mex. (2017)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Douglas, R.A., Holt, J.D.: Determining length of installed timber pilings by dispersive wave propagation methods. Cent. Transp. Eng. Stud. Dept. Civ. Eng. North Carolina State Univ. (1994)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zad, A.: Determination of embedded length and general condition of utility poles using non-destructive testing methods. Diss. Univ. Technol. Sydney. (2013)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jozi, B.: Condition assessment of in-service timber utility poles utilizing advanced digital signal processing and multi-sensors array. Diss. Univ. Technol. Sydney (2015)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Subhani, M., Li, J., Samali, B., Yan, N.: Determination of the embedded lengths of electricity timber poles utilizing flexural wave generated from impacts. Aust. J. Struct. Eng. 14, 85–96 (2013). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Farid, A.T.M.: Prediction of unknown deep foundation lengths using the Hilbert Huang Transform (HHT). HBRC J. 8, 123–131 (2012). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ni, S.-H., Li, J.-L., Yang, Y.-Z., Yang, Z.-T.: An improved approach to evaluating pile length using complex continuous wavelet transform analysis. Insight-Non-Destruct. Test. Cond. Monit. 59, 318–324 (2017). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Realpe, D.A.: Seismic performance and displacement capacity of RCFST drilled shafts. Diss. North Carolina State Univ. (2017)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Finno, R.J.: 1-D wave propagation techniques in foundation engineering. In: Art of Foundation Engineering Practice. American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA, pp. 260–277 (2010)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hanifah, A.: A theoretical evaluation of guided waves in deep foundations. Diss. Northwest. Univ. (2000)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Chao, H.C.: An experimental model for pile integrity evaluation using a guided wave approach. Diss. Northwest. Univ. (2002)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wang, H.: Theoretical evaluation of embedded plate-like and solid cylindrical concrete structures with guided waves. Diss. Northwest. Univ. (2004)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lynch, J.J.: Experimental verification of flexural guided waves in concrete cylindrical piles. Diss. Northwest. Univ. (2007)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

Personalised recommendations