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Subsurface Sensing and Imaging for Civil Infrastructure Diagnostics. Students: Heejeong Shin, FNU Brawijaya, and Jennifer Marckesano (RPI) Kimberly Belli, Alex Bonnar, Rick Unruh, Linnea Linton (NU) Lev Pinelis (NU UROP) Advisors: Dimitri A. Grivas, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Subsurface Sensing and Imaging for Civil Infrastructure Diagnostics

Students: Heejeong Shin, FNU Brawijaya, and Jennifer Marckesano (RPI)

Kimberly Belli, Alex Bonnar, Rick Unruh, Linnea Linton (NU)

Lev Pinelis (NU UROP)

Advisors: Dimitri A. Grivas, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Sara Wadia-Fascetti, Northeastern University

Carey Rappaport, Northeastern University

Industrial Partners: TransTech Systems, Inc.

Industrial Collaborators: Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc.

Infrasense, Inc.

Radar Solutions International

Impact-Echo Instruments, LLC

This work was supported in part by the Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSSIS) under the Engineering Research Centers Program of the National Science Foundation (Award Number EEC-9986821).

project goals
Project Goals
  • Create a Multi-Modal Subsurface Sensing & Imaging (SSI)
  • Engineering Systemfor Civil Infrastructure Media
    • Soil Dielectric Modeling –model and simulate electromagnetic response of soil elements to identify and characterize geotechnical engineering properties
    • Sensor and Image Reliability – assess accuracy and repeatability of images of bridge deck and pavement structures through statistical quality control
    • Sensor Fusion – improve detection and measures of important CI & G features
censsis value added
CenSSIS Value Added
  • Interdisciplinary and industrial collaboration
  • Use of CenSSIS models
  • Linkages to other applications
  • Technology transfer
  • Educational outreach
  • Hosted UROP who investigated Impact Echo for CI & G applications
  • Developed Impact Echo Laboratory Module and Demonstration
soil dielectric modeling

, Z = e-iwDt

e’ = Constant,

Soil Dielectric Modeling

Conventional Dielectric Model of Soil Media


Rational Function Model of Dispersive Media

’ =relative permittivity or dielectric constant

s = permittivity as f goes to 0

 = relative permittivity as the frequency goes to infinity

p = 1/relaxation frequency

 = 2f = applied radian frequency

t = time step

E = applied electric field, D = electric flux,

J = electric current


Soil Dielectric Modeling

Three Phases of Geo-Materials

  • Soil dielectric models assist to better

understand interactions in soils and other

CI&G materials

  • Predictive estimates of dielectric constants

and electromagnetic properties of medium


    • Enhance design
    • Increase detection
    • Decrease uncertainties
  • Models are formulated of the interactions between EM signals and mechanical characteristics of CI&G materials to characterize mechanical behaviors through EM properties such as:
    • Density vs. Dielectric permittivity
    • Delamination vs. EM signal amplitude

Soil Dielectric Modeling

Electromagnetic FEM Modeling Technique to Characterize the Interaction of Sensors and Porous Dielectric Media

Laboratory Model

EM Fields inside soil media showing EM sensors

soil dielectric modeling8
Soil Dielectric Modeling
  • Average Dielectric Permittivity and Conductivity Are Related to:
    • Volumetric fractions of components (porosity, void ratio and degree of saturation)
    • Characteristics of each component and their interaction

From Hilhorst, et al. (1994)

Dielectric behavior of soil as function of frequency

  • Microstructure of the soil matrix (i.e., the shape, orientation, and arrangement of the particles and pores)

Sensor & Image Reliability

Impact Echo Reliability Investigation

  • Data being analyzed for inclusion in M.S. Thesis (L. Linton)
  • Concrete slabs 3’-9” square x 9.5” thick

Sampling of Experimental Results






Sensor & Image Reliability

Core Number 22

(Photo by Prudent Engineering Group)

Core Sample Investigation (South Grand Island Bridge, Buffalo, NY)

  • Core samples collected by Prudent Engineering Group for South Grand Island Bridge (Buffalo, NY)
  • GPR data collected by Infrasense, Inc.
  • Data analyzed from fundamental concepts of electromagnetics and compared to core samples
sensor image reliability
Sensor & Image Reliability

GPR Accuracy Evaluation (North Grand Island Bridge, Buffalo, NY)

Control Chart

ROC Curve

Contour Map for Rebar Amplitudes

sensor image reliability12
Sensor & Image Reliability
  • Simulate multiple layers
  • Evaluate the accuracy of GPR in determining layer thickness
  • Each layer has different density and/or grain size
  • Simulate delamination within reinforced concrete
  • Investigate effects of object orientation and antenna polarization

Exploratory Research Prior to Using the Soil Testbed

Laboratory Setup:

sensor fusion for civil infrastructure diagnostics

Imperfect Migration process for pavement layer interface

Lower accuracy of thin layer measurement (i.e., in asphalt)

Dielectric values of different layers

Determining the ground truth

Addressing the near-field issue

Sensor Fusion for Civil Infrastructure Diagnostics
  • Multi-modal sensors, implemented at the feature level, address:
    • Modeling
    • Registration
    • Proof of concept
    • Assumed dielectric constant and EM properties
sensor fusion for civil infrastructure gpr ir

Bridge Deck Model (Infrared)

Bridge Deck Model (GPR)


Asphalt Overlaid Deck

Higher Temperature


Non-overlaid Deck

Sensor Fusion for Civil Infrastructure – GPR / IR

Higher Temperature

sensor fusion for civil infrastructure gpr ir15
Sensor Fusion for Civil Infrastructure– GPR / IR

Infrared Image

Suspected deteriorated area: Brighter area (higher temperature)

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Image

Suspected delamination area: Weaker EM wave Reflection


Sensor Fusion for Civil Infrastructure – GPR / IE

Preliminary comparison of Impact-Echo and GPR for Sensor Fusion

I: Can detect directly OK: Can detect and make inferences P: Possible, not sure how X: Outside limits

project status
Project Status
  • Fusion of GPR with Infrared and Other Modalities

- Pilot study (complete)

  • Collect field data

- Bridge decks: Grand Island Bridges – GIB, Buffalo, NY

- Pavement structures: Grand Central Parkway – GCP, NYC

  • Evaluate ground truth data

- Controlled field data: Two bridges, NY (planned)

- Laboratory test (ongoing)

- Reliability analysis (ongoing)

  • Evaluate sensor fusion algorithms (ongoing)
industrial collaboration framework
Industrial Collaboration Framework
  • Sensor/System Technology
    • Transtech Systems, Inc.

    • Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc. (GSSI)

    • Impact-Echo Instruments, LLC

  • Field Testing
    • Infrasense, Inc.

    • Radar Solutions International

  • Maser, K., M. Horschel, and D. Grivas, “INTEGRATION OF GROUND PENETRATING RADAR AND INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY FOR BRIDGE DECK ASSESSEMENT”, Structural Materials Technology V – An NDT Conference, pp 119 – 128, The American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc. (2002)
  • Hilhorst, M. A. and Dirkson, C., "DIELECTRIC WATER CONTENT SENSORS: TIME DOMAIN VERSUS FREQUENCY DOMAIN," Symposium and Workshop on Time domain Reflectometry in Environmental, Infrastructure, and Mining Applications, Spec. Publ. SP 19-94, pp. 23-33 (1994)
  • Shin, H. and D. Grivas, “HOW ACCURATE IS GROUND PENETRATING RADAR(GPR) FOR BRIDGE DECK CONDITION ASSESSMENT?”, accepted for publication, Transportation Research Record, Academy of Engineering (2003)
  • Wadia-Fascetti, S., Grivas, D., Schultz, C.B., “SUBSURFACE SENSING FOR HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE CONDITION DIAGNOSTICS: OVERVIEW OF CURRENT APPLICATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT”, Paper No. 02-3987. Transportation Research Board 81st Annual Meeting, Washington D. C. (2002)
  • Rappaport, C., Wu, S., and Winton, S., “FDTD WAVE PROPAGATION MODELING IN DISPERSIVE SOIL USING A SINGLE POLE CONDUCTIVITY MODEL,” IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 35, pps. 1542--1545 , (1999).
  • Yang, B. and Rappaport, C., “RESPONSE OF REALISTIC SOIL FOR GPR APPLICATIONS WITH TWO DIMENSIONAL FDTD,” IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, pp. 1198--1205 , (2001).
contact information
Contact Information

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dimitri A. Grivas ( - Advisor

Heejeong Shin ( - Graduate Student

FNU Brawijaya ( - Graduate Student

Jennifer Marckesano ( - Graduate Student

Phone: 518-276-8609

Web Site:

Northeastern University

Sara Wadia-Fascetti ( - Advisor

Carey Rappaport ( - Advisor

Kimberly Belli ( - Graduate Student

Alex Bonnar ( - Graduate Student

Linnea Linton ( - Graduate Student

Rick Unruh ( - Undergraduate Student

Lev Pinelis ( - UROP

Phone: 617-373-4248

Web Site: