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Monitoring systems to Assess Geotechnical Infrastructure subjected to Climatic hazards

Final Report Summary - MAGIC (Monitoring systems to Assess Geotechnical Infrastructure subjected to Climatic hazards)

1 January 2013 – 01 January 2018

European Commission - FP7
Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP)

The aim of MAGIC was to develop novel systems to monitor earth structures exposed to climate hazard. It involved three universities, University of Strathclyde (UK), Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour (France), and Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) and four SMEs, G IMPULS Praha (Czech Republic), UMS GmbH (Germany), Tecnopenta s.r.l. (Italy) and PESSL Instruments GmbH (Austria). The technological and scientific project was implemented via secondments and recruitment of 182 researcher-months in total. These included 72 months of recruitment and 110 months of secondment (51 months from Industry to Academia and 59 months from Academia to Industry).
One of the major focus of the project was the development and concept demonstration of two instruments for field measurement of pore-water tension (suction) up to 1.5 MPa, namely a high-capacity tensiometer for long-term measurement at shallow depths (<2m) and a tensiocone for rapid measurement of suction profile at greater depths (up to 20m). These two developments were associated with Work Packages WP1 and WP2 respectively and were based on research prototypes developed by the academic partners in MAGIC.
MAGIC also focused on techniques for monitoring water content via electrical geophysical methods (WP3) and tackled the problem of real-time data quality control (based on the concepts of measurement coherence) to identify faulty data due to instrument malfunctioning and/or mis-installation (WP4). Instrumented sites were implemented to demonstrate devices, techniques, and approaches developed by the project (WP5).

We have developed and validated pre-commercial prototypes for shallow and deep measurement of pore-water tension via laboratory scale mock-up testing and field testing. Concerning the use electrical geophysical methods, Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and electromagnetic induction methods (EM) have been tested at two sites in Czech Republic, one site in Italy, and one site in the Netherlands to demonstrate the potential of geophysical survey in complementing geotechnical investigation and monitoring. Data from monitoring stations in Austria and Italy have been used to devise routines for quality control of ground-atmosphere interaction data. We have implemented three instrumented field sites in France (Itxassou and Orist) and Scotland (Rest and Be Thankful) to test the sensors and techniques developed by the project.

Pre-commercial High-Capacity Tensiometers for shallow measurements of pore-water tension have been successfully validated in the laboratory and in the field. The distinctive feature of these prototypes is that they meet industrial requirements, i.e. they are robust, low cost, easy-to-manufacture, and easy-to-use. Pre-commercial tensiocone prototypes for deep measurement of pore-water tension have also been validated in the laboratory and in the field. In particular, we have demonstrated that adequate hydraulic continuity between the tensiometer incorporated into the tensiocone and the surrounding soil can be established. We have shown that geophysical techniques can be used to map spatial and temporal variations of water content in the geo-structures successfully and that geophysical fast-moving devices can effectively detect phreatic surface variations and can therefore be implemented in early-warning systems. Finally, we have devised an approach to allow for automated quality control of data from stations monitoring ground-atmosphere interaction based on the water retention curve concept.

MAGIC effort will result in new commercial instruments and data management systems in turn expected to lead to major improvement in design, maintenance, and adaptation of geotechnical infrastructure subjected to climatic hazard.
Monitoring the soil moisture regime is crucial to assess and predict the performance of geo-structures. For example, pore-water pressure and water content are precursor of potential instabilities of shallow landslides triggered by rainfall infiltration. These landslides cause significant human and material losses as they often evolve into highly destructive debris-flows or mudflows. Rainfall-triggered mudflows in Campania region (Italy) in 1999 caused 160 fatalities and damages to houses and productive installations for €34 million, and rainfall-triggered landslides in San Miguel Island (Portugal) in 1997 caused 29 fatalities and material losses for €21 million. An understanding of flow regime in the vadose zone underpinned by the monitoring of the soil moisture regime is also key in designing suitable mitigation measures against foundation subsidence. Over the past two decades, ground subsidence has caused substantial damages to infrastructure all over Europe and a substantial drop in residential capital values in several locations. For example, the economic damage caused by the summer 2003 drought in France has been estimated to €1 billion.

Project Coordinator: Professor Alessandro Tarantino, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
Assistant Project Coordinator: Ms Katharine Houston, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK