A Temperature Based Novel Monitoring System for Scour and Deposition at Bridge Piers

Stream flows around a bridge pier can be fast and highly turbulent causing large shear stresses that may mobilize streambed sediment resulting in scour around bridge foundations. Scour is the leading cause of bridge failure in the USA because it compromises bridge structural stability. However, streambed surface elevation may decrease (sediment scour) or increase (deposition of sediment) depending on local upstream sediment transport and water flow conditions. Consequently, yearly or biyearly measurements of streambed elevations may not provide an accurate evaluation of the scour risk at bridges. Current techniques are too expensive, difficult to install or provide only maximum scour. Thus, this project tests a low-cost and simple methodology to monitor streambed elevation changes continuously. The method uses the naturally occurring oscillations of stream water temperature as a tracer. As the water temperature signal propagates through the sediment, it undergoes advection dispersion and diffusion, which change the phase and amplitude of the original signal (stream water temperature). The proposed method detects changes in local streambed elevation from paired analysis of the phase and amplitude of in stream and in-sediment water temperature signals. Our test at five Idaho bridges in five different watersheds proves that the method is robust. The method detects streambed elevation changes and maximum scour, which are verified with time series of ground-surveyed streambed elevations and scour chains, respectively.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $68,000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    RP 243

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Idaho Transportation Department

    P.O. Box 7129, 3311 West State Street
    Boise, ID  United States  83707-1129
  • Project Managers:

    Reese, Lotwick

    Legler, Jake

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Idaho, Moscow

    Department of Civil Engineering
    875 Perimeter Drive MS 1022
    Moscow, ID  United States  83844-1022
  • Principal Investigators:

    Tonina, Daniele

  • Start Date: 20150115
  • Expected Completion Date: 20170215
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170526
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39582

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01560823
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Idaho Transportation Department
  • Contract Numbers: RP 243
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 23 2015 1:00AM