Sensors Measure Soil Settlement for Safer Construction Site Regions

A pile driver is a mechanical device used to drive piles - or poles - into soil to provide foundation support for buildings or other structures. Vibrations from pile driving can create cracks in deep foundations for nearby structures like bridges. University of Michigan researchers are hoping a new sensor can predict soil settlement before an accident occurs. Ground surface sensors have traditionally been used to measure the vibrations, but the length needed to travel from deep underground in order to reach the sensors is telling only part of the story. Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan, is taking a different approach by installing both geophones and accelerometers in depth and very close to the driven pile. This has given her team data that is first of its kind and will hopefully lead to a better understanding of how much soil settlement is produced in a construction site.