This paper describes a programme of research that aims to develop a continuous, real-time acoustic emission (AE) monitoring system that can be distributed at discrete locations along buried pipelines to sense pipe/soil interaction and provide early warning of adverse behaviour to enable targeted and timely interventions. Pipe/soil interaction-generated AE propagates as guided waves along pipelines. Novel AE interpretation is allowing the evolution of the pipe/soil interaction behaviour to be characterised, and the rate and magnitude of deformation to be quantified. New understanding of AE propagation and attenuation in buried pipes is enabling source localisation methodologies to be developed. Results from normal faulting experiments performed on buried full-scale steel pipes at the buried infrastructure research facility at Queen’s University, Canada, are presented to demonstrate the potential of the AE technique for early detection of buried pipe deformation.
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