MAPPING THE UNDERWORLD: MULTI-SENSOR DEVICE CREATION, ASSESSMENT, PROTOCOLS

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment

Abstract

The project aims to create a prototype multi-sensor device, and undertake fundamental enabling research, for the location of underground utilities by combining novel ground penetrating radar, acoustics and low frequency active and passive electromagnetic field (termed quasi-static field) approaches. The multi-sensor device is to employ simultaneously surface-down and in-pipe capabilities in an attempt to achieve the heretofore impossible aim of detecting every utility without local proving excavations. For example, in the case of ground penetrating radar (GPR), which has a severely limited penetration depth in saturated clay soils when deployed traditionally from the surface, locating the GPR transmitter within a deeply-buried pipe (e.g. a sewer) while the receiver is deployed on the surface has the advantage that the signal only needs to travel through the soil one way, thereby overcoming the severe signal attenuation and depth estimation problems of the traditional surface-down technique (which relies on two-way travel through complex surface structures as well as the soil). The quasi-static field solutions employ both the 50Hz leakage current from high voltage cables as well as the earth's electromagnetic field to illuminate the underground infrastructure. The MTU feasibility study showed that these technologies have considerable potential, especially in detecting difficult-to-find pot-ended cables, optical fibre cables, service connections and other shallow, small diameter services. The third essential technology in the multi-sensor device is acoustics, which works best in saturated clays where GPR is traditionally problematic. Acoustic technology can be deployed to locate services that have traditionally been difficult to discern (such as plastic pipes) by feeding a weak acoustic signal into the pipe wall or its contents from a remote location. The combination of these technologies, together with intelligent data fusion that optimises the combined output, in a multi-sensor device is entirely novel and aims to achieve a 100% location success rate without disturbing the ground (heretofore an impossible task and the 'holy grail' internationally).The above technologies are augmented by detailed research into models of signal transmission and attenuation in soils to enable the technologies to be intelligently attuned to different ground conditions, thereby producing a step-change improvement in the results. These findings will be combined with existing shallow surface soil and made ground 3D maps via collaboration with the British Geological Society (BGS) to prove the concept of creating UK-wide geophysical property maps for the different technologies. This would allow the users of the device to make educated choices of the most suitable operating parameters for the specific ground conditions in any location, as well as providing essential parameters for interpretation of the resulting data and removing uncertainties inherent in the locating accuracy of such technologies. Finally, we will also explore knowledge-guided interpretation, using information obtained from integrated utility databases being generated in the DTI(BERR)-funded project VISTA.

Organisations

 
Description Vibro-acoustics, or structural acoustics, is the study of mechanical waves in structures and how they interact with and radiate into adjacent fluids and media. In the context of MTU, the structures of interest are generally buried pipes (water, oil, gas), and the adjacent fluids/media are the fluid contained within the pipes and the ground/soil/fluid in which they are buried or immersed. The principle behind all of the vibro-acoustic techniques that have been explored in MTU is that when one part of the pipe/soil structure is mechanically excited in a controlled manner, waves will propagate away from the excitation point, interact with the surrounding structure or fluid and be subsequently measurable at some remote location(s) on the ground surface. By analysing the nature of the measured response(s) at the surface, the location of the buried pipe(s) can then be inferred. Three complementary vibro-acoustic techniques for locating buried services have been developed in MTU: (a) Vibration excitation applied directly on a pipe which has been found to be very successful for locating both plastic and metal water pipes, laid under grass and under tarmac; (b) Vibration excitation applied at the ground surface (shear wave method) which is system that for the first time does not need to have access to the pipe; (c) Vibration excitation applied at the ground surface (point measurement method) which has been used successfully to detect a number of shallow-buried services.

The measurement of magnetic fields can be realised through the use of search coils and in the context of MTU this method has been used to detect magnetic fields generated by buried electrical conductors such as power cables. A system has been developed based on an array of coils that provide simultaneous measurement data of the magnetic field. This data is then analysed and used to estimate the location of the buried cable in terms of lateral position and depth.
Exploitation Route The vibro-acoustic techniques have been designed and tested so that their application to a non-academic context is straightforward. These techniques have direct application to the location of sewerage, gas, water and other utility distribution pipes. This allows the number of unnecessary holes that are cut into the UK road network (about 4 million each year) to be minimised, thereby saving millions of pounds in costs and the inconvenience and danger to the public.

The power cable location system is currently being used in collaboration with Prysmian Cables and Systems Ltd. to verify its performance in accurately mapping the location of an energised 275 kV cable circuit. Again this is with a view to minimise potential disruption of any remedial works that may be required on the buried cable. The project has seen the involvement of many academic and industrial partners who have been kept regularly informed thanks to annual meetings and the participation to national and international conferences.

This project is also part of a wider program which was led by the University of Birmingham. The University of Birmingham is leading the consultation process with potential companies (among which Caterpillar) to explore the possibility of exploitation.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Energy,Environment
URL http://www.mappingtheunderworld.ac.uk
 
Description Mapping the Underworld began with the ambitious aim of developing a means to detect and map the UK's ever-evolving infrastructure of underground pipes and cables. Thanks to the University of Southampton's contribution to a multi-university research effort, in addition to strong collaborations with industry, the project has achieved this and much more. It has been a catalyst for the development of a new British Standard, influenced government policy on streetworks, guided industry practice in the UK and overseas, given rise to a national Centre of Excellence and accredited vocational training centre, and raised public awareness of the problems associated with buried infrastructure.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal
 
Description ASSESSING THE UNDERWORLD - AN INTEGRATED PERFORMANCE MODEL OF CITY INFRASTRUCTURES
Amount £5,782,838 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K021699/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2013 
End 05/2017
 
Description Collaboration with JK Guest Group 
Organisation J K Guest Group
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The partnership with world-leading civil engineers JK Guest Group was founded in 2009 and has ultimately led to the development of a world-class testing arena, the Mapping the Underworld Centre of Excellence. JK Guest committed £2 million to build the facility to a detailed specification from core members of the MTU team, including Muggleton. The Centre is Europe's first dedicated training facility for utility mapping, surveying and excavation, and the only utility mapping training provider in Europe accredited for NVQ qualifications, with 15 modules on offer. The centre is accredited by the Construction Industry Training Board and qualifications are recognised on the Construction Skills Certification Scheme card. The partnership has ultimately led to the development of a world-class testing arena, the Mapping the Underworld Centre of Excellence. JK Guest committed £2 million to build the facility to a detailed specification from core members of the MTU team. The Centre is Europe's first dedicated training facility for utility mapping, surveying and excavation, and the only utility mapping training provider in Europe accredited for NVQ qualifications.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Consultant for Underground Imaging Technologies 
Organisation Underground Imaging Technologies
Country United States of America 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Underground Imaging Technologies invited Muggleton to act as a consultant, advising on seismic issues
Start Year 2010
 
Title Underground Object Detection Patent 
Description Rayleigh wave exciter - a ground excitation device to preferentially excite Rayleigh (or surface) waves in a directable beam. 
IP Reference GB1002754.8 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted
Licensed No
Impact Not yet available
 
Description Amendment to the Charges for Unreasonably Prolonged Occupation of the Highway 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact In 2011 the core MTU team including Muggleton were invited by UK government representative Dr Susan Juned to comment on the proposed Amendment to the Charges for Unreasonably Prolonged Occupation of the Highway 2012.

Not yet available
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Mapping the Underworld 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of the work done during the project to establish ground of possible future collaboration.

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Mapping the Underworld 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The MTU team has developed a brochure that comprehensively covers the life of the project and development of the sensors from their embryonic state to their current ground breaking competition.

Not available
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Mapping the Underworld Video 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The team produced a short animated video, which has been viewed more than 700 times on YouTube.

Video has been viewed more than 700 times on YouTube
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011