Abstract

Landslides have the potential to adversely affect the integrity of pipelines. Identifying, characterizing, evaluating, and if necessary, mitigating and monitoring landslide hazards have become critical steps to successfully and safely building and operating pipelines in the Appalachian Basin region of the United States. Natural geologic, geographic, and climatic conditions in this region combine to create a high incidence of landslides, with landslide formation and movement often exacerbated by anthropogenic activity. Rapid expansion of pipeline construction and operation in the region, along with the ever-decreasing availability of preferred routing options, have resulted in increased landslide-related pipeline incidences, both during and post-construction. As such, there is an increasing need to identify, characterize, and closely monitor landslide hazards throughout the construction and operational lifespan of each pipeline system. This can prove challenging in an area where a pipeline may be subject to an average of two to five landslides per mile of pipeline, and where new landslide hazards may develop on an annual basis. Typical site-specific monitoring approaches (e.g., strain gauge, inclinometers, monitoring points, etc.) may not be economically feasible to use for all hazards when traversing long distances of such terrain, and such approaches likely do not address the need to identify new hazards that may develop over time (e.g., new or reactivated landslides).

Strong monitoring programs should seek to identify and use complimentary technologies to balance out the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. Overdependence on a single or select number of tools could lead to overconfidence and an unnecessary number of false positives and negatives. This paper will provide an overview of monitoring approaches that have proven useful for the long-term monitoring and assessment of high density landslide areas at a system-wide scale, including the use of repeat LiDAR surveys (i.e., LiDAR Change Detection Analysis), in-line inspection (ILI) inertial measurement unit (IMU) data, aerial patrol/reconnaissance, and ground patrol. Case studies will be presented from the Appalachian Basin region, including how monitoring techniques were selected based on specific pipeline system configurations and individual Operator objectives, and how they are being used to track existing hazards and to identify hazards as they develop.

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