Visitor from Colorado School of Mines (CSM)

Kerri Stone Ph.D. Candidate in the Mathematical and Computer Sciences Department at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden (Colorado, USA) visited the Communication Systems working group to present her work in the Intelligent Monitoring And Geophysical INspection of Embankment Dams (IMAGINE) project.

Talk Abstract
Earthen dams are critical components in our world’s water resource infrastructure, but many are at or near their intended design life. As these structures age, the development of seepage, settlement, and internal erosion impact their safety and effective operation. To monitor for incipient failure modes, dam operators and owners periodically collect manual measurements from widely spaced instruments. These instruments, including piezometers, inclinometers, settlement points, and seepage weirs, record sparse measurements within a structure composed of heterogeneous and spatially diverse materials. Structure owners may also send survey teams to sites to manually collect additional physical measurements and to perform more indepth survey analyses (e.g., geophysical). Current dam monitoring practice results in a long lag time between the start of a problematic condition and its detection, which precipitates expensive, disruptive, and technically challenging repairs. To improve safety margins and ensure water availability, advanced dam monitoring techniques are required.

We have developed a wireless geophysical hardware platform and accompanying network protocols to enable continuous, long-term wireless dam inspection using geophysical monitoring techniques such as self potential, resistivity, and seismic. The sensor data autonomously collected by our platform can be used to quickly identify seepage within the dam subsurface. One challenge to enable accurate detection is determining the geospatial location of collected geophysical sensor data. Since using a GPS chip for location is undesirable due to high costs (both hardware and energy costs), we have developed an in-network localization protocol that uses wireless measurements to produce sensor location estimates. This talk details our hardware design, our wireless sensor network localization protocol, and outlines our initial field site deployment. Our work enables turnkey, continuous, and noninvasive dam inspection, improving subsurface knowledge and decreasing the probability of catastrophic failure.