Evaluation of bridge instability caused by dynamic scour based on fractal theory

Tzu-Kang Lin*, Rih Teng Wu, Kuo Chun Chang, Yu Shian Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Given their special structural characteristics, bridges are prone to suffer from the effects of many hazards, such as earthquakes, wind, or floods. As most of the recent unexpected damage and destruction of bridges has been caused by hydraulic issues, monitoring the scour depth of bridges has become an important topic. Currently, approaches to scour monitoring mainly focus on either installing sensors on the substructure of a bridge or identifying the physical parameters of a bridge, which commonly face problems of system survival or reliability. To solve those bottlenecks, a novel structural health monitoring (SHM) concept was proposed by utilizing the two dominant parameters of fractal theory, including the fractal dimension and the topothesy, to evaluate the instability condition of a bridge structure rapidly. To demonstrate the performance of this method, a series of experiments has been carried out. The function of the two parameters was first determined using data collected from a single bridge column scour test. As the fractal dimension gradually decreased, following the trend of the scour depth, it was treated as an alternative to the fundamental frequency of a bridge structure in the existing methods. Meanwhile, the potential of a positive correlation between the topothesy and the amplitude of vibration data was also investigated. The excellent sensitivity of the fractal parameters related to the scour depth was then demonstrated in a full-bridge experiment. Moreover, with the combination of these two parameters, a safety index to detect the critical scour condition was proposed. The experimental results have demonstrated that the critical scour condition can be predicted by the proposed safety index. The monitoring system developed greatly advances the field of bridge scour health monitoring and offers an alternative choice to traditional scour monitoring technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075003
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number7
StatePublished - 28 May 2013

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