Electrical Resistivity and Induced Polarization Imaging for Unknown Bridge Foundations Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers. Scour is the removal of soil around bridge supports due to water flow during floods. One of the major problems with scour is in the case of unknown bridge foundations. Bridges with unknown foundations are listed in the National Bridge Inventory as having insufficient data for scour evaluation, particularly regarding foundation depth. Knowing the foundation depth is a critical component of scour risk assessment. Multiple nondestructive testing methods are currently used to determine the depth of unknown bridge foundations; however, many methods are hindered by the type of substructure. An advantage of using near-surface geophysical methods, specifically electrical resistivity (ER) and induced polarization (IP) imaging, is that the inversion processes yield subsurface images, thereby allowing the depth and, to a lesser extent, the foundation type to be seen. Unlike a majority of existing testing methods, ER and IP imaging do not physically use the structure so they are applicable to simple and complex foundation structures. In this paper, results of ER and IP imaging tests performed at the Texas A&M University National Geotechnical Experimentation Site, on a bridge with known foundation depth and a bridge with unknown foundation depth are presented. The applicability of ER and IP imaging to determine substructure characteristics for unknown bridge foundations is also discussed. A probability of nonexceedance estimate for predictions using IP is given to quantify IP imaging reliability.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Tucker, S. E., Briaud, J., Hurlebaus, S., Everett, M. E., & Arjwech, R.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Tucker, Stacey E||Briaud, Jean-Louis||Hurlebaus, Stefan||Everett, Mark E||Arjwech, Rungroj

publication date

  • May 2015