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  • Created 04 Nov 2010

About the Group

Natural disasters, in particular earthquakes, can cause damage to pipelines which transport life- and society-sustaining supplies, such as water or hydrocarbons. Earthquake damage to pipelines can have disastrous humanitarian, social, economic, and ecologic consequences. Consequently, real-time, and automatic or on-demand assessment of damage to pipelines after the earthquake is essential for early emergency response, efficient preparation of rescue plans, and mitigation of the disastrous consequences. Assessment is particularly challenging for buried pipelines.

A method for real-time, automatic or on-demand, assessment of health condition of buried pipelines after the earthquake will be developed in this Payload project. The focus will be on damage detection and localization generated by earthquake induced ground displacement. The method will be based on the use of distributed fiber-optic sensing technology and will be applicable to both concrete and steel pipelines. A distributed fiber-optic sensor can be represented by a single several-kilometer long cable that is sensitive at every point along its length. Hence, one distributed sensor can replace thousands of traditional point sensors, and is less difficult and more economical to install and operate. Both, strain (deformation) and temperature will be monitored: strain (deformation) because the earthquake induced ground displacement actually strains (deforms) the pipe, while temperature sensing is proposed since the damage of a pipeline is often correlated with leakage of transported material that can be indirectly detected as a change of thermal parameters in the surrounding soil. Besides the assessment of damage, the method can be used for long-term structural health monitoring and operational monitoring, which will serve as an important input for lifetime maintenance activities.

The proposed method will help mitigate disastrous consequences of the earthquake-induced damage to pipelines, but it will also help lifetime maintenance activities of pipelines through structural health monitoring and operational monitoring. This will have a direct broad impact on society through an increase in safety for the human population and goods, the containment of economical losses for industry and users, and the preservation of the environment.


Project Overview