Coupling Novel Soil Moisture-Suction Sensors and UAV Photogrammetry Technology to the Performance of Highway Embankments

The majority of highway embankments across the United States, specifically in the South-Central region, are in marginal condition because the high-plasticity clays used during construction soften with time to significantly lower strengths. Also, infiltrating rainfall increases pore-water pressures and ultimately lead to slope instability. As a result, these failures have required periodic maintenance to ensure proper highway safety, which has been costly for the Louisiana and Texas DOTs. This study will advance the understanding of how long-term wetting-drying cycles change the in-situ unsaturated and strength properties of high-plasticity clays. The project scope focuses on developing a predictive design and rehabilitation tool for highway embankments while addressing fundamental unsaturated and shear strength research questions. One highway embankment with prior history of shallow slides will be instrumented to collect undisturbed shear strength, in-situ soil moisture, and pore-water conditions. Specific objectives of the project include: (1) measure in-situ suction and moisture content using a novel suction-TOR sensor, (2) rapidly evaluate embankment geometry and slope movements using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and (3) develop a numerical tool that can predict fully softened shear strengths, slope failures for a rainfall event, and improvements in embankment to a repair.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $90000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Tran-SET)

    Louisiana State University
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70803
  • Project Managers:

    Melson, Christopher

  • Performing Organizations:

    Louisiana State University

    3660G Patrick F. Taylor Hall
    Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70803

    University of Texas at Arlington

    Department of Civil Engineering
    Box 19308
    Arlington, TX  United States  76019
  • Principal Investigators:

    Jafari, Navid

    Yu, Xinbao

    Puppala, Anand

    Congress, Surya

  • Start Date: 20190815
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210815
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01713226
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Tran-SET)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747106
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 5 2019 8:39PM