Bridge Foundation River Scour and Infill Characterisation using Water-Penetrating Radar

Kris E.J. Campbell*, Alastair Ruffell, Jamie Pringle, David Hughes, Su Taylor, Brian Devlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
145 Downloads (Pure)


Inspections of engineered structures below water level are essential to ensure the long-term serviceability of bridge infrastructure and to avoid major damage or failure. This research aimed to investigate integrated geophysical technologies for the underwater inspection of bridge foundation-related scour and erodible scour-based infill. Survey methods focused on Water-Penetrating Radar (WPR), supplemented by sonar. Whilst the survey benefits of the sonar imaging water–sediment interface and structures are well known, those of WPR are not. However, it is ideally suited to the survey of the water base and sub-sediment in shallow (>10 m) freshwater, especially where suspended sediment, weed infestation or methane impede sonar results. Our work produced good WPR imagery acquired from small, manoeuvrable boats that allowed bathymetric profiles to be plotted, as well as the likely locations of soft-sediment scour in future high-water flow events. This study provides clear benefits for integrated sonar and WPR surveys in the quantitative assessment of engineered structures within freshwater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2542
Number of pages16
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Knowledge Transfer Partnership Grant 090519 between Collins CEI Engineering and Queen?s University Belfast. Mary Hart of the Queen?s University Belfast KTP; Conor Graham (QUB) for use of GPS; Mike Langton (GuidelineGeo/Mala) for loan of GPR equipment; Keith Bennett (University of St. Andrews) and Lisa Coyle-McLung (Queen?s, Belfast) for the use of the dinghy. Karl Sandmeier is thanked for providing Queen?s University, Belfast (under licence) ReflexW data processing software.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bridge monitoring
  • River scour
  • Sonar
  • Water-penetrating radar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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