Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Salam Rahmatalla


Vibration-based damage identification (VBDI) techniques have been developed in part to address the problems associated with an aging civil infrastructure. To assess the potential of VBDI as it applies to highway bridges in Iowa, three applications of VBDI techniques were considered in this study: numerical simulation, laboratory structures, and field structures. VBDI techniques were found to be highly capable of locating and quantifying damage in numerical simulations. These same techniques were found to be accurate in locating various types of damage in a laboratory setting with actual structures. Although there is the potential for these techniques to quantify damage in a laboratory setting, the ability of the methods to quantify low-level damage in the laboratory is not robust. When applying these techniques to an actual bridge, it was found that some traditional applications of VBDI methods are capable of describing the global behavior of the structure but are most likely not suited for the identification of typical damage scenarios found in civil infrastructure. Measurement noise, boundary conditions, complications due to substructures and multiple material types, and transducer sensitivity make it very difficult for present VBDI techniques to identify, much less quantify, highly localized damage (such as small cracks and minor changes in thickness). However, while investigating VBDI techniques in the field, a novel methodology, operational response and waveform analysis (ORWA), was developed to extend the focus of traditional VBDI techniques by correlating bridge damage to operational structural motion. It was found that if the frequency-domain response of the structure can be generated from operating traffic load, the structural response can be animated and used to develop a holistic view of the bridge's response to various automobile loadings. By animating the response of a field bridge, concrete cracking (in the abutment and deck) was correlated with structural motion and problem frequencies (i.e., those that cause significant torsion or tension-compression at beam ends) were identified. Furthermore, a frequency-domain study of operational traffic was used to identify both common and extreme frequencies for a given structure and loading. Finally, a finite element analysis of a structure similar to the field bridge was carried out to supplement and partially verify experimental results. Further work should (1) perfect the process of collecting high-quality operational frequency response data; (2) expand and simplify the process of correlating frequency response animations with damage; and (3) develop efficient, economical, pre-emptive solutions to common damage types identified by ORWA.


Bridges, Damage detection, Field tests, Identification, Operational, Vibration


xiii, 95




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Copyright 2010 Kyle David Hudson