EGU2020-8341, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Bridge pier scour hazards assessment using smart-spheres

Alex Corrigan, Hassan Elmubarak, Yi Xu, Panagiotis Michalis, and Manousos Valyrakis
Alex Corrigan et al.
  • University of Glasgow, Civil Engineering, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Under climate change, shifting  weather conditions, (both in terms of increasing frequency and intensifying magnitude) result in increasing occurrence of catastrophic failures of the constantly exposed and ageing infrastructure, across the world. Energetic flow events, advected past hydraulic infrastructure (such as bridge piers and abutments), may lead to scour [1, 2, 3], which is the primary cause of bridge collapses, resulting in high socio-economical costs, including loss of life.

This research aims to demonstrate the use of a novel monitoring device for the assessment of scour initiated by turbulent flows. This is pursued via the use of a miniaturized instrumented particle, namely “smart-sphere”, to record directly the frequency of entrainment from its downstream placement a model bridge pier at the Water Engineering lab of the University of Glasgow [4, 5, 6]. The change in entrainment frequencies is used as a metric to assess the increasing risk to scour, with increasing flow conditions, recorded acoustic Doppler velocimetry (ADV). The utility of the method as well as the potential use of the acquired data for prediction of bridge pier scour is presented and the tool as well is discussed with the potential for use to an appropriate field site [7, 8, 9].



This research project has been supported by Transport Scotland, under the 2019/20 Innovation Fund and the Student research award.



[1] Pähtz, Th., Clark, A., Duran, O., Valyrakis, M. 2019. The physics of sediment transport initiation, cessation and entrainment across aeolian and fluvial environments, Reviews of Gephysics,

[2] Yagci, O., Celik, F., Kitsikoudis, V., Kirca, O., Hodoglu, C., Valyrakis, M., Duran, Z., Kaya S. 2016. Scour patterns around individual vegetation elements, Advances in Water Resources, 97, pp 251-265, doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2016.10.002.

[3] Michalis, P., Saafi, M. and M.D. Judd. (2012) Integrated Wireless Sensing Technology for Surveillance and Monitoring of Bridge Scour. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Scour and Erosion, France, Paris, pp. 395-402.

[4] Valyrakis, M. & Pavlovskis, E. 2014. "Smart pebble” design for environmental monitoring applications, In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Hydroinformatics, Hamburg, Germany.

[5] Valyrakis M., A. Alexakis. 2016. Development of a “smart-pebble” for tracking sediment transport. International Conference on Fluvial Hydraulics River Flow 2016, St. Liouis, MO, 8p.

[6] Valyrakis, M., Farhadi, H. 2017. Investigating coarse sediment particles transport using PTV and “smart-pebbles” instrumented with inertial sensors, EGU General Assembly 2017, Vienna, Austria, 23-28 April 2017, id. 9980.

[7] Valyrakis, M., Diplas, P., Dancey, C.L. 2011. Prediction of coarse particle movement with adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference systems, Hydrological Processes, 25 (22). pp. 3513-3524. ISSN 0885-6087, doi:10.1002/hyp.8228.

[8] Valyrakis, M., Michalis, P., Zhang, H. 2015a. A new system for bridge scour monitoring and prediction. Proceedings of the 36th IAHR World Congress, The Hague, the Netherlands, pp. 1-4.

How to cite: Corrigan, A., Elmubarak, H., Xu, Y., Michalis, P., and Valyrakis, M.: Bridge pier scour hazards assessment using smart-spheres, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8341,, 2020