Identification of damage parameters during flood events applicable to multi-span bridges


During flood events, the dynamic interaction between flowing water and bridges generates random loadings that force bridges to vibrate in all six degrees of freedom. It is difficult for a structural damage detection method to select a degree of freedom, or damage feature, to accurately describe and predict damage. The methodology presented here identifies damage-sensitive features and uses them to monitor bridge health. A small-scale physical model of a multi-span highway bridge was constructed to satisfy geometrical, Cauchy, and Froude similarities, and six-dimensional hydrodynamic forces induced by simulated flood events were investigated as an input excitation in a tilting flume. It was determined that pitch, roll, and surge motions can be used as damage features during the inundated stage, while pitch, roll, surge, and heave can be used before the inundated stage. In addition, angular velocity signals exhibited more consistent damage indices than acceleration. Using the damage features, the proposed algorithm could successfully detect damage and damage severity during simulated flood stages. Identifying damage features can reduce the size of the collected data and inform emergency responders’ decisions. This case study can be used to test methods at full scale on similar structures to develop automated health-monitoring systems.

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The research described in this paper is funded by the Mid-America Transportation Center via a grant from the US Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program (Grant number: DOT 69A3551747107), and this support is gratefully acknowledged. The contents reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the information presented herein and are not necessarily representative of the sponsoring agencies.

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Correspondence to Salam Rahmatalla.

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Karimpour, A., Rahmatalla, S. & Markfort, C. Identification of damage parameters during flood events applicable to multi-span bridges. J Civil Struct Health Monit 10, 973–985 (2020).

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  • Structural health monitoring
  • Damage index
  • Flooding
  • Hydrodynamic loading
  • Angular velocity