The use of Ground Penetrating Radar and alternative geophysical techniques for assessing embankments and dykes safety

Mori, Guido (2009) The use of Ground Penetrating Radar and alternative geophysical techniques for assessing embankments and dykes safety, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Modellistica fisica per la protezione dell'ambiente, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/2138.
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The research is part of a survey for the detection of the hydraulic and geotechnical conditions of river embankments funded by the Reno River Basin Regional Technical Service of the Region Emilia-Romagna. The hydraulic safety of the Reno River, one of the main rivers in North-Eastern Italy, is indeed of primary importance to the Emilia-Romagna regional administration. The large longitudinal extent of the banks (several hundreds of kilometres) has placed great interest in non-destructive geophysical methods, which, compared to other methods such as drilling, allow for the faster and often less expensive acquisition of high-resolution data. The present work aims to experience the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) for the detection of local non-homogeneities (mainly stratigraphic contacts, cavities and conduits) inside the Reno River and its tributaries embankments, taking into account supplementary data collected with traditional destructive tests (boreholes, cone penetration tests etc.). A comparison with non-destructive methodologies likewise electric resistivity tomography (ERT), Multi-channels Analysis of Surface Waves (MASW), FDEM induction, was also carried out in order to verify the usability of GPR and to provide integration of various geophysical methods in the process of regular maintenance and check of the embankments condition. The first part of this thesis is dedicated to the explanation of the state of art concerning the geographic, geomorphologic and geotechnical characteristics of Reno River and its tributaries embankments, as well as the description of some geophysical applications provided on embankments belonging to European and North-American Rivers, which were used as bibliographic basis for this thesis realisation. The second part is an overview of the geophysical methods that were employed for this research, (with a particular attention to the GPR), reporting also their theoretical basis and a deepening of some techniques of the geophysical data analysis and representation, when applied to river embankments. The successive chapters, following the main scope of this research that is to highlight advantages and drawbacks in the use of Ground Penetrating Radar applied to Reno River and its tributaries embankments, show the results obtained analyzing different cases that could yield the formation of weakness zones, which successively lead to the embankment failure. As advantages, a considerable velocity of acquisition and a spatial resolution of the obtained data, incomparable with respect to other methodologies, were recorded. With regard to the drawbacks, some factors, related to the attenuation losses of wave propagation, due to different content in clay, silt, and sand, as well as surface effects have significantly limited the correlation between GPR profiles and geotechnical information and therefore compromised the embankment safety assessment. Recapitulating, the Ground Penetrating Radar could represent a suitable tool for checking up river dike conditions, but its use has significantly limited by geometric and geotechnical characteristics of the Reno River and its tributaries levees. As a matter of facts, only the shallower part of the embankment was investigate, achieving also information just related to changes in electrical properties, without any numerical measurement. Furthermore, GPR application is ineffective for a preliminary assessment of embankment safety conditions, while for detailed campaigns at shallow depth, which aims to achieve immediate results with optimal precision, its usage is totally recommended. The cases where multidisciplinary approach was tested, reveal an optimal interconnection of the various geophysical methodologies employed, producing qualitative results concerning the preliminary phase (FDEM), assuring quantitative and high confidential description of the subsoil (ERT) and finally, providing fast and highly detailed analysis (GPR). Trying to furnish some recommendations for future researches, the simultaneous exploitation of many geophysical devices to assess safety conditions of river embankments is absolutely suggested, especially to face reliable flood event, when the entire extension of the embankments themselves must be investigated.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Mori, Guido
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze della terra e dell'ambiente
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
GPR applied geophysics embrantements
Data di discussione
11 Giugno 2009

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