The OPASC and the OSPAR are 10″ and 30″ pipelines, respectively, which interconnect the State of Santa Catarina and Paraná, crossing the Serra do Mar, in southern Brazil. In 2003, after conducting slope stabilization works on a point of geotechnical activity, vibrating string gauges were installed to monitor the stress in these pipelines, in addition to geotechnical instruments installed to monitor the slope. These gauges were installed in seven sections, with 3 instruments per section, along a span of 180 meters.
Although the geotechnical instrumentation has shown no evidence of movement in the slope, the gauges recorded an increase in stress values in some of the sections within three months from the time of installation, however, they remained stable in their values for the next ten years. In 2013, blind hole tests were performed to determine the stresses in these sections and to verify the proper function of the gauges. The combination of these two measurement techniques, vibrating string gauges and blind hole tests, allowed for the determination of the stress state in sections, over time. From there, equivalent stress could be determined and compared with allowable stresses defined in standards.
After the completion of the blind hole test and subsequent backfill, stress rose again at the same rate, returning to the level reached after the initial installation of the strain gauges. To reduce the stress level additional excavations have been made to relieve the stress on the pipeline, followed by backfilling performed in a controlled manner in order for the soil to properly compact, which reduced the stress value over the pipes. The graphs depicting variation over time of stress showed a significant reduction in the level of stress after the backfill.
The main conclusions are listed as follows: a) the evolution of stress observed by the extensometers was primarily caused by pipeline settling; b) the vibrating string gauges are functioning properly and provide reliable readings even after ten years of service; c) the blind hole testing performed in conjunction with monitoring by vibrating string gauges can provide approximate values of the full stress state; d) after stress relief, backfilling of the trench must be carried out by compacting the soil beneath the pipe in order to reduce bending stresses due to the weight of the soil; e) backfilling of the trench, when not properly performed, can cause compressive stress in bending, reaching 390 mPa over the next few months.