Researchers at the Department of Homeland Security have built a new tool that offers faster assessment of soil conditions around bridge pillars after hurricanes and heavy rains that may affect bridge stability.
The DHS said Tuesday that its Science and Technology Directorate developed the Soil Probe with the Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence. The tool mainly analyzes the erosion of soil around a structure caused by water flow.
Soil Probe eliminates the need to take samples for laboratory testing, which traditional assessment requires to check soil resistance to erosion. The device also has minimal dependence on power because of its rechargeable batteries and requires only two personnel to operate.
“This device can be used in places where taking samples is not feasible,” said Mohammed Gabr, a professor at North Carolina State University and developer of Soil Probe.
The DHS said transportation and bridge engineers, contractors as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency can use the instrument in future field assessments.
“The testing is rapid — it can go 30 feet deep within five minutes — and can be done in many places along a bridge for a complete mapping of the bridge foundation support area,” Gabr added.