How to tackle the problem of Bridge Scour

How to tackle the problem of Bridge Scour

July 2022

Bridge scour refers to the erosion of soil around bridge foundations (abutments and piers). It occurs when fast-moving water surrounding a bridge removes sediment from around the bridge foundation, creating scour holes that can seriously compromise the bridge’s integrity. Bridge scour is the leading reason for bridge failure worldwide.

The following are the types of scour that can occur around a bridge. 

  1. Natural scour: it takes place due to the natural variability of river stream flows and sediment regime. Gradation of the riverbed, lateral channel migration, bend, and confluence scour are part of the natural scour.
  2. Contraction scour: it happens when flow velocity and shear stress increase, and it usually takes place across the whole river stream width.
  3. Local scour: it occurs due to local turbulence caused by structures that split the flow (e.g., bridge abutments and piers).
  4. Total scour: it is the sum of all the scour processes mentioned above.
How to tackle the problem of Bridge Scour
Bridge Scour monitoring techniques

There are different types of monitoring that can be used to identify Bridge Scour. They can be divided into two main groups: direct and indirect monitoring techniques.

Direct monitoring techniques

Direct monitoring techniques involve directly placing devices on the bridge piles in order to measure the depth of the erosion in real time. Over the years many measuring tools have been developed that monitor various elements such as electrical conductivity, heat dissipation, interruption of electrical circuits, etc. However, they all have a disadvantage: in flood conditions as well as in the event of greater erosion around the piles, data can be easily altered, preventing access to realistic and useful information.

How to tackle the problem of Bridge Scour

Indirect monitoring techniques

Devices are placed on the deck, on the plinth of the piles, on the head of the piles, or on the beams. Their position is chosen in order to collect as much data as possible on the different structural vibrations and motions of the whole bridge, from which the information about bridge scour will be derived.

How to tackle the problem of Bridge Scour

Continuous monitoring of Bridge Scour is crucial to prevent failures. 

Move Solutions is a leading company for Smart Structural Health Monitoring. We offer innovative devices for any type of bridge monitoring: we are committed to keep developing the newest technologies in order to improve the health of our bridges and to ensure safer transportation systems worldwide.

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