Deformation Monitoring

What is deformation monitoring and how is it used?

Deformation monitoring tracks the movement of a surface or object in response to stressors. It is often employed to monitor ground movements, such as subsidence or landslips, or assess civil infrastructure, such as dam walls, roads, or bridges. 

To ensure public safety, deformation monitoring is critical. When authorities know that there is movement underway, they have the information to issue warnings of potential ground movements. This means that people can move safely from the area before subsidence, landslides or other damaging incidents occur. Further, deformation monitoring can be utilised to provide assurance that public infrastructure is safe for ongoing use.

Automatic Deformation Monitoring 

Deformation monitoring can occur manually or automatically. While manual deformation monitoring relies on human operators to use sensing equipment across the site and download information, automatic deformation monitoring uses a combination of hardware in the field paired with analysis software to assess data. 

Automatic deformation monitoring removes people from potentially unsafe environments. Once installed, smart-monitoring provides consistent data points and the potential for continuous or regular assessments. It provides information in real time. 

Deformation Monitoring Techniques

There are a range of deformation monitoring techniques used by surveyors and engineers. Sensors range from radars and lidar to geodetic devices and geotechnical measurement devices. These are combined in contemporary deformation monitoring equipment. 

Geodetic techniques measure a network of points to monitor angles and distances, thereby assessing ground or object locations. They are used for absolute measurements that are assumed to be stable and unmoving. It can combine terrestrial measurements or space-based positions, including using GPS. 

Geotechnical devices measure movements without reference to external inputs. Equipment to gather this data includes extensometers, piezometers, tilt meters, pressure meters, thermometers, barometers, accelerometers. 

Deformation monitoring uses

Deformation monitoring spans the civil engineering and mining industries. Assessing movement, including tiny changes of less than one millimetre, gives valuable insights into the safety and stability of the infrastructure or asset. 

Building deformation monitoring 

In the civil industries, assessing movement, including tiny changes of less than one millimetre, gives valuable insights into the safety and stability of the infrastructure or asset. 

Road deformation monitoring 

High-traffic roadways bear a variety of loads and stressors, from heavy machinery to changing weather conditions. Monitoring for subsidence can warn of collapse from undermining, subsidence or landslides. 

Dam deformation monitoring 

Dam walls are an important target of deformation monitoring, given their propensity for movement amid high-pressure. They are impacted by strong internal, external and changing loads. Using a variety of techniques, surveyors can determine damage or structural distress. 

Mine deformation monitoring 

Mine deformation monitoring can provide early warning systems of slope instability. The scale and magnitude of earth movement in mining can lead to motion across the pit. Continuous, automatic monitoring can assist in risk mitigation and management. 

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