As a novel non-invasive structural health monitoring (SHM) technique for application to buried pipelines, in-situ vibration-based detection offers an approach to achieve continuous monitoring. Modal characteristics are often quantified using vibration signals, with traditional modal analysis performed using either impact-response testing or mechanical-shaker excitation. Both methods, however, are not suitable for a buried pipeline. In this research work, the operational modal response of a buried-pipe structure is investigated, and the application of transient flow event detection is presented. Experiments are conducted on a buried 160-inch horizontal stainless-steel pipe section with an inner diameter of 2-inch. Soil compaction is performed to 95% of the maximum dry density (proctor compaction). During experiments, water flow rate through the pipe (Reynolds number) is increased and turbulent pressure fluctuations provide the varying structural excitation source. Vibration measurements are made using one tri-axial and four single-axis accelerometers. Accelerometers directly mounted to the pipe are to perform on-pipe measurement to investigate the operational modal response of the buried pipe structure. Accelerometers positioned in soil are to investigate the vibration transmission through the soil in both the horizontal and vertical directions, examining the feasibility of the modal response characterization through non-contact measurement. The operational modal response collected through on-pipe measurement showing that vibration energy is decreased due to the soil and the vibration of the axial direction (along the pipe) has highest sensitivity than the other two directions with increasing Reynolds number. The abnormal signal induced by a transient flow event is visualized using short-time spectral analysis, and its propagation and source are determined using acoustic methods. The vibration transmission of the buried pipe propagating through the soil is heavily attenuated both horizontally and vertically.

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