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International Journal of Structural Stability and Dynamics

Vol. 9, No. 4 (2009) 687709


#
.c World Scientic Publishing Company

DAMAGE DETECTION OF RC SLABS USING


NONLINEAR VIBRATION FEATURES

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XINQUN ZHU* and HONG HAOy


School of Civil and Resource Engineering
The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
*zhu@civil.uwa.edu.au
y
hao@civil.uwa.edu.au
Received 8 January 2008
Accepted 10 November 2008
Studied herein are the signatures of nonlinear vibration characteristics of damaged reinforced
concrete structures using the wavelet transform (WT). A two-span RC slab built in 2003 was
tested to failure in the laboratory. Vibration measurements were carried out at various stages of
structural damage. The vibration frequencies, mode shapes, and damping ratios at each loading
stage were extracted and analyzed. It is found that the vibration frequencies are not sensitive to
small damages, but are good indicators when damage is severe. The dynamic responses are also
analyzed in the timefrequency domain by WT and the skeleton curve is constructed to describe
the nonlinear characteristics in the reinforced concrete structures. The results show that the
skeleton curves are good indicators of damage in the reinforced concrete structures because they
are more sensitive to small damages than vibration frequencies.
Keywords: Damage detection; vibration test; two-span RC slab; nonlinear.

1. Introduction
Structural damage detection and health monitoring has become a very popular
research topic in recent years. Many research studies have been conducted on using
the change in the structural vibration properties for damage detection. Comprehensive literature reviews on this topic are presented by Doebling et al.,1 Sohn et al.,2
Carden and Fanning,3 and Brownjohn.4 Civil engineering structures may be subjected to aging deterioration and they may be damaged due to overloading, impact,
man-made or natural disasters, such as blasting, tornados, and earthquakes. Detection of damage immediately after an extreme event can help engineers assess the
condition of the structure and make a decision regarding the need for retrotting or
replacing the damaged structure.
The occurrence of damage modies the vibration characteristics of structures, such
as natural frequencies, modal damping ratios, and mode shapes. However, the natural
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688

X. Zhu & H. Hao

frequencies and mode shapes are not necessarily good indicators of damage because
vibration frequencies are often not sensitive to small damages, and it needs a large
number of measurements to characterize the mode shapes accurately. Moreover, most
methods require the preventive knowledge of the dynamic characteristics of the
undamaged structure. It is also necessary to remove the eects of environmental
factors such as temperature and humidity from the damage detection method.5
In contrast to the vast quantity of work reported on linear damage detection
techniques, little has been done to investigate the nonlinear time-dependent vibration
properties of civil engineering structures. Since reinforced concrete structures are
nonlinear in behavior, important information is lost when a linear assumption is
made in the dynamic analysis. Kato and Shimada6 presented the vibration
measurement on an existing prestressed concrete bridge deck during its progressive
failure test. The decrement of natural frequency was small even if cracks occurred
while the prestressed steel wires were in the elastic state. The cracks of concrete were
closed together by the eective prestressing after the load was removed. Eccles et al.7
presented the phase-plane plot generated by exciting the beam at a natural frequency
with constant excitation energy. The degree to which the plot deviates from a circle is
a measure of the nonlinearity of the system, and the absolute change in the natural
frequencies was used as a damage indicator. Van Den Abeele and De Visscher8
performed both linear and nonlinear acoustical experiments on a reinforced concrete
beam. It was found that the vibration did not behave linearly even when the structure was undamaged. Once the beam was damaged using a four-point loading, the
nonlinearities became far more pronounced. Neild et al.9 presented four nonlinear
mechanisms of the damage for reinforced concrete beam under low-amplitude cyclic
vibration loads. They are the bilinear crack closure mechanism; mechanisms due to
the nonlinear behavior of concrete in compression; relative slip between the reinforcing bar and concrete on either side of the crack; and matrixaggregate interaction
over the crack surface. The nonlinear characteristics of the damaged concrete beams
under impact excitation were also studied using the short-time Fourier Transform.10
Law and Zhu11 studied the nonlinear characteristics of damaged reinforced concrete
bridge structures under moving vehicular loads. Chen et al.12 presented a new indicator based on the transient characteristics of nonlinear vibration for damage
detection in reinforced concrete beams. It was suggested by Surace and Ruotolo13
that the response of a cracked beam to an impulsive load can be considered as
nonstationary owing to the fact that the frequency component of the response signal
changes in time with the crack opening and closure. The nonstationary nature of
measured signals produced by structural damage suggests that the time-variant
procedure should be used to detect such damage. Zhu and Law14 studied the signatures of nonlinear characteristics in the vibration response of a reinforced concrete
beam with cracks using HilbertHuang transform. However, the empirical mode
decomposition (EMD) may run into diculties and each intrinsic mode function
(IMF) contains more than one natural frequency components.15

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Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

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Wavelet transform (WT) is a signal processing tool. Because of its capacity of


timefrequency multi-resolution analysis for nonstationary signals, the WT has
recently been demonstrated as a promising tool for system identication and damage
assessment of machinery and structures.16,17 The WT has the ability to decouple the
measured multi-component signal to mono-component signals in the form of complex-valued signature via the popular Morlet wavelet, and then the identication
scheme for single-degree-of-freedom (sdof) system can be implemented to extract the
modal parameters.1820 For a nonlinear system, the instantaneous damping coecient and the natural frequency of the system become functions of time. These
instantaneous characteristics can be obtained from the ridges and skeletons of the
WT.21,22 The natural frequency and damping coecient are often represented as
functions of the free vibration envelope. The graphical representation of vibration
behavior in the form of a function of natural frequency vs free vibration envelope is
called a backbone curve.23 The backbone curve and the signal envelope are extracted
based on the ridges and skeletons of the WT, which enables parameter estimation of
the nonlinear system.
This study focuses on the signatures of nonlinear characteristics in the vibration of
damaged reinforced concrete structures using wavelet analysis, and on investigating
the possibility of using changes in these characteristics for damage detection. A twospan RC slab built in 2003 was tested to failure. Vibration measurements were
carried out at various stages of structural damage. The dynamic responses were
analyzed in the timefrequency domain by WT and the skeleton curve was constructed to describe the nonlinear characteristics in the reinforced concrete structures. The results show that the skeleton curves were good indicators of damage in
the reinforced concrete structures. For comparison, the vibration frequencies, mode
shapes, and damping ratios were also extracted from the measured data. It is found
that they are not sensitive to small damages although they are good indicators when
damage is severe. It demonstrates that the skeleton curves are superior damage
indicators as compared to vibration frequencies because they are a lot more sensitive
to damage, especially when the damage is small.
2. Modal Parameter Identication
2.1. Theoretical background of wavelet transform
The WT of a signal x(t) is a time-scale decomposition obtained by dilating and
translating along the time axis using a chosen analyzing function. The continuous
WT of a square-integrable signal x(t), where t is time or space, is dened as24


Z 1
1
tb
W a; b xt  a;b t p
xt 
dt;
1
a
a 1
where  denotes the convolution of two functions, a;b t is the son wavelet generated
by dilatation and translation from the mother wavelet t; a > 0; b 2 R; a is the
dilatation or scale parameter dening the support width of the son wavelet and b the

690

X. Zhu & H. Hao

translation parameter localizing the son wavelet function in the time domain,  t
the complex conjugate of t which is a mother wavelet satisfying the following
admissibility condition:
Z 1
j!j 2
d! < 1;
2
j!j
1
where ! is the Fourier transform of
requires that

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0 0;

t. The existence of the integral in (2)


Z

i:e:
1

tdt 0:

There are dierent types of real- and complex-valued wavelet functions for various
purposes. One of the most widely used wavelet functions is the complex Morlet wavelet
due to its capacities in timefrequency localization for analytical signal. For a given
value of dilatation parameter, the spectrum of the Morlet wavelet has a xed bandwidth. If an analyzed frequency is high, the dilatation parameter is small, and the
spectrum of the Morlet wavelet function is wide, which then results in a bad spectral
resolution. One method to overcome this is to use the shifted Morlet wavelet. In this
study, the modied complex Morlet wavelet function is used and formulated as follows:
2
1
t p e j2fc t e t =fb ;
4
fb
where fb is the bandwidth parameter which controls the shape of the mother wavelet,
fc is the central wavelet frequency, and j is the imaginary unit. The wavelet lter
central frequency is f fc =a, which gives a relation between the scale parameter and
the central frequency of the modied Morlet wavelet.
The frequency localization is clearly seen when the WT is expressed in terms of the
Fourier transform
p Z 1
a
W a; b
X!  a!e jwb d!;
5
2 1
where X! is the Fourier transform of the signal x(t) and a  a!e j!b is the Fourier
transform of the son wavelet  tb
a . The localization depends on the scale parameter
a. The WT is equivalent to a particular lter band analysis in which the relative
frequency bandwidth !=! are constant and related to the parameters a, b and the
frequency properties of the wavelet. The local resolution of the WT in time and
frequency is determined by the duration and bandwidth of analyzing functions given
by t at and f f =a, where t and f are the duration and bandwidth
of the basic wavelet function.
2.2. Modal parameter identication using wavelet
Considering a linearly damped multi-degree-of-freedom (mdof) system with n real
modes, its free decay response is given by
n
X
xt
Ai e 2 i fi t cos2fdi t i ;
6
i1

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

691

where fi ;  i ; and i are the natural frequency, damping


ratio, and phase angle of the
p
ith mode. Ai is the amplitude of the ith mode. fdi 1   2i fi is the damped natural
frequency. The analytic signal corresponding to this real signal x(t) is dened as
zt xt jHxt;
where Hxt is the Hilbert transform of x(t):
Z
1 1
1
Hxt
d:
x
 1
t

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By substituting Eq. (6) into Eq. (7), the complex signal is given by
zt

n
X
i1

Ai Bi te ji t

n
X

Ai e 2 i fi t e j2fdi ti ;

i1

where Bi t e 2 i fi t and i t 2fdi t i . It is an asymptotic signal if the phase


of the signal varies much faster than the amplitude.
By the Morlet WT, the wavelet coecients of the free decay signal are given by
Refs. 19 and 20.
p X
2
2
a n
W a; b
Ai Bi be  fb afi fc e ji b :
10
2 i1
The WT is a signal decomposition procedure working as a lter in the time
frequency domain. Thus, a mdof system can be decoupled into a series of sdof sys2
2
tems. For a xed value of the scale parameter a ai , the term e  fb afi fc obtains
its maximum value at ai fc =fi . In such cases, only the mode i related to the scale ai
gives a signicant contribution to Eq. (10), while the other n  1 modes appear to
be negligible. For the ith mode, it becomes
p
ai
W ai ; b
Ai Bi be ji b :
11
2
From Eq. (11), we have the modulus and phase of the wavelet representation. By
applying the logarithm, we obtain
8
 p 
 p 
ai
ai
>
< ln jW ai ; bj ln jBi bj ln
Ai 2 i fi b ln
Ai ;
2
2
12
>
:
ArgW ai ; b i b 2fdi b i :
From Eq. (12), the natural frequency and damping ratio are given by
8
s




>
d ln jW ai ; b 2
dArgW ai ; b 2
>
>
>
2;

< fi
db
db


>
>
d ln jW ai ; bj
>
>



2fi :
: i
db

13

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X. Zhu & H. Hao

In Eq. (13), the natural frequency and damping ratio are computed at the corresponding time instant. It is used to estimate the instantaneous frequency and
damping in this study. The windowing process by the mother wavelet when the
transform is computed at the corresponding time instant causes errors of envelope
extraction at the beginning and the end of the signal owing to the edge eect. This
error can be reduced by selecting a narrow bandwidth parameter of the mother
wavelet.

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3. Experimental Setup
3.1. Two-span reinforced concrete slab
The constructed slab measures 6400 mm  800 mm  100 mm with 3000 mm spans
and 200 mm overhang on each end, as shown in Fig. 1. The slab rested on wooden
planks placed over three steel UB sections. Grade 32 concrete was chosen, with
20 mm aggregate and 80 mm slump. N6 reinforcing bar was chosen for both positive
and negative reinforcements, with 20 mm cover to meet the required environmental
exposure classication. The slab was designed according to the moment redistribution method with 11 N6 bars at 75 mm centers for both positive and negative
reinforcement. Metal plates of 6 mm thick were built into the slab over the supports
to prevent localized damage. The slab was covered in plastic the following day after
pouring the concrete and then the formwork was stripped after 14 days in compliance
with the code requirement stated in AS36610 clause 19.6.2.5. Cylinders for the slab
were tested after 28 days and had an average compressive strength of 40.2 MPa. The
Young's modulus of the slab is 3:3  10 10 Pa and the density is 2450 kg=m 3 .
3.2. Experimental setup
Using the four-point loading, the slab was incrementally loaded at the middle of each
span to dierent load levels to create crack damage. In order to reduce the eect of
the loading system to the supports, the loading system is connected to the supports of
the slab as shown in Figs. 1(a) and 1(b). Thirteen loading stages, shown in Table 1,
were performed with increasing maximum load level. Loading stage 1 is the initial
case. Two load cells were used to record the static loads on the left and right spans.
The crack locations and lengths were monitored in addition to the displacement
measurements. Four displacement transducers were located at two sides of the
middle of each span to measure the deection under the static load (see Fig. 1(a)).
For the dynamic test, a 5.4 kg impact hammer was used. Each test included three sets
of measurements. In each set, nine accelerometers were evenly distributed along the
slab to measure the dynamic responses. The sensor and impact locations are shown in
Fig.1(c). A data acquisition system was used to collect the data from all the channels
including the impulse load with a sampling rate of 500 Hz. The data length for each
channel was 4096.

693

(a) The loading system

1000mm

1000mm

1000mm

1000mm

1000mm

100mm

P1

1000mm

P2

S1, S2: Displacement transducers


at the middle of two sides

S3, S4: Displacement transducers


at the middle of two sides

(b) Static load test


Support

Support

120mm

3502mm

50mm

Support

1050mm

50mm

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Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

200mm

7508mm

Impact point

200mm

Sensor location

(c) Dynamic test


Fig. 1. Experimental setup and sensor locations.

694

X. Zhu & H. Hao


Table 1. Loading stages and damage scenario.

Loading stage
Loads

P1 (kN)
P2 (kN)
Damage scenario

L1

L2

0
0

3
0
UD

L3

L4

L5

6
12
18
0
0
0
One damage zones

L6

L7

18
18
3
6
Two damage zones

L8

L9

L10

L11

L12

18
12

18 25
32
35
18 25
25
35
Three damage zones

L13
38
38

4. Experimental Results

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4.1. Support conditions


Some preliminary tests comparing responses at the midspan and at the supports were
performed to check the support conditions for the slab. Figure 2 shows the accelerations at the left support and the middle of the left span and their spectrums. It can
be seen that initially the responses are of similar amplitude. However, the movement
at the support decayed much faster than the vibration at the center of the slab, since
most of the responses at the support are at the high-frequency end of the spectrum.
The behavior of the other supports is very similar to that of the left-hand
support. From the results, the supports may be considered as rigid after approximately 0.1 s because the movement at the support becomes far smaller than the
center of the slab.
4.2. Static test results
Figure 3 shows the loaddisplacement curves of the left and right spans for the
loading stage No. 13. In this loading stage, the left span of the slab was loaded up to
33 kN rst. The displacement of the right span increased in the negative direction
when the left span was loaded. Then the right span was loaded up to 38 kN. The load
on the left span of 33 kN was kept during the loading procedure in the right span.
With the loading increase on the right span, there is no obvious change on the
displacement of the left span. However, some crack closures might occur because the
load on the right span generated a negative moment in the left span. Finally, the left
span was loaded up to 38 kN. The loads on the left and right spans were kept on the
slab about half an hour so that the damage was created fully. During the unloading,
the load on the right span was removed rst and then the left span was unloaded.
After unloading, the slab was also kept for about half an hour before testing. The
results show that the loaddisplacement curves on the two sides of the slab are
approximately the same, indicating there is no torsional force. The damage in the
slab is created by the bending moment only.
The loading procedures for the other stages are similar to that of No. 13. Dierent
damage scenarios are created by these loading stages and the details are shown in
Table 1. In Table 1, the damage scenarios are separated into three dierent damage
levels. For the loading stages 3, 4, and 5, the load was applied to the left span only
from 6 kN to 18 kN. Some cracks, which are dened as one damage zone, were created
around the middle of the left span. This is classied as the damage level 1 with

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

695

Amplitude

4
at support
In the middle

2
0
-2
-4

0.5

1.5

2
2.5
Time (second)

3.5

200
Amplitude

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(a) Accelerations

At support
In the middle

150
100
50
0

50

100
150
Frequency (Hz)

200

250

(b) Fourier spectrum


Fig. 2. Accelerations and their spectrum at support and the midspan.

dierent damage extents. In loading stages 6 and 7, the load was also applied to the
middle of the right span. Some cracks were seen clearly at the middle of the slab. This
is the second damage zone and was classied as damage level 2. When the load at the
middle of the right span increased, the cracks appeared in the middle of the right
span. It is the third damage zone and the damage level 3. In the damage level 3, there
are six loading stages and three damage zones. Figure 4 shows the crack patterns for
these three levels.
4.3. Experimental modal analysis
Vibration tests were carried out before damage and at each load increment before and
after removing the applied load on the slab. Six tests were performed for each conguration and an average taken. The frequency response function (FRF) of the
measured data is calculated in a frequency range of 0250 Hz. The natural frequencies and mode shapes are extracted from FRFs by Rational Fraction Polynomial
method. The damping ratios are estimated using the half-power point method.
Figure 5 shows the rst 4 and the 6th mode shapes of the undamaged case, and
loading stage 13 with or without the static load on the slab. The 5th mode is
extracted because the impact point is close to the nodal point of the 5th mode.
Figures 6 and 7 show the rst two natural frequencies and damping ratios for all

X. Zhu & H. Hao

Load (kN)

696

45

Disp1-loading

40

Disp2-loading

35
30

Disp1-unloading
Disp2-unloading

25
20
15
10
0
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Displacement (mm)
(a) Middle of left span

45
40
35
30

Load (kN)

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25
20

Disp3-loading

15

Disp4-loading

10

Disp3-unloading

Disp4-unloading

0
-10

-5 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Displacement (mm)
(b) Middle of right span
Fig. 3. Loaddisplacement curves during loadingunloading procedure (38 KN).

loading stages with or without static loads on the slab. From these results, the
following observations can be made
(1) From Fig. 5, there are no obvious changes in the mode shapes for undamaged and
damaged cases. By examining the Coordinate Modal Assurance Criteria
(COMAC) between the undamaged case and the loading stage 13 with or
without the static load on the slab, all COMAC values are larger than 0.9. The
result conrms the above observation. The natural frequencies of the slab
without static loads on the slab are much larger than those with static loads
except for the rst two modes. The rst two natural frequencies of the slab with

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

697

Damage Zone 1

(a) Crack pattern for level 1

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(b) Crack pattern for level 2

(c) Crack pattern for level 3


Fig. 4. Crack patterns for dierent damage levels.

static loads are larger than that without loads because the loading system adds
the constraints at the load application points of the two spans. As for modes 3
and 6, as shown the load application locations coincide with the stationary points
of the modes. Therefore, the applied load is equivalent to added mass to the
structure, which reduces the vibration frequencies of these modes substantially.
For the torsional mode 4, the combined eect of the equivalent additional mass
from the applied load and the frictional constraints due to load application
resulted in changes of the vibration frequencies, but at a lesser extent.
(2) From Fig. 6(a), the rst natural frequency decreases with the loading stage.
Compared with the undamaged case, it is about 5.04% reduction for the loading
stage 5 in Level 1, about 7.34% reduction for the loading stage 7 in Level 2, and
33.29% reduction for the loading stage 13 in Level 3. In loading stages 15, the
rst natural frequency of the slab without the static loads is only slightly smaller
than that with the static loads. From loading stage 6, it is substantially smaller
than that with the static loads. This indicates the increased constraints from the
steel beam for load application when the deformation of the slab is larger. Slight
frequency increases are also observed for the case measured with the static loads.
This might be attributed to some measurement noises because removing and
replacing the load application beams on the slab at every loading stage might
change the constraint condition to the slab.
(3) From Fig. 6(b), the second natural frequency also decreases with the loading
stage. Compared with the undamaged case, it is about 5.41% reduction for the
loading stage 5 in Level 1, about 7.16% reduction for the loading stage 7 in Level
2, and 48.47% reduction for the loading stage 13 in Level 3. Similar observations
made on the fundamental frequency can also be drawn here.

698

X. Zhu & H. Hao

Undamaged slab

Damaged slab (without load)

Mode: 1 Freq = 17.8211 Hz Damping = 1.2559 %

0.6
0.4
0.2
0
-0.2
-0.4

0
-0.5

0.5

2
0

Mode: 2 Freq = 13.1294 Hz Damping = 5.5073 %

Mode: 3 Freq = 60.3835 Hz Damping = 4.9906 %

2
0

Mode: 3 Freq = 48.3317 Hz Damping = 3.4454 %

-0.5

Mode: 4 Freq = 77.9789 Hz Damping = 5.2141 %

-0.5

Mode: 4 Freq = 65.1368 Hz Damping = 5.5876 %

0.5

Mode: 6 Freq = 166.1143 Hz Damping = 1.3093 %

6
4

-0.5

0.5

Mode: 6 Freq = 135.3494 Hz Damping = 1.411 %

Mode: 6 Freq = 110.0012 Hz Damping = 1.3421 %

6
0.5

0.4
0.2
0
-0.2
0.5

Mode: 4 Freq = 64.0913 Hz Damping = 1.0808 %

2
0

4
2

2
0

0.5
4

6
0.4
0.2
0
-0.2
-0.4
-0.6
0.5

2
0

6
0.4
0.2
0
-0.2
-0.4
-0.6

6
4

6
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
-0.2
-0.4
0.5

0
0.5

2
0

0.5

0.5

Mode: 3 Freq = 42.2415 Hz Damping = 3.1209 %

2
0

0.5

0.5

Mode: 2 Freq = 18.7338 Hz Damping = 2.1813 %

-0.2
-0.4
-0.6
0.5

6
0.5
-0.5

2
0

0
-0.2
-0.4
-0.6
0.5

6
0.4
0.2
0
-0.2
-0.4
-0.6
0.5

0.5

Mode: 2 Freq = 25.4813 Hz Damping = 2.2099 %

-0.2
-0.4
-0.6
0.5

Mode: 1 Freq = 14.383 Hz Damping = 2.6098 %

0.5

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Mode: 1 Freq = 11.8887 Hz Damping = 4.0626 %

Damaged slab (with load)

0
-0.5
0.5

2
0

Fig. 5. Mode shapes of slab with or without damage and load.

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

699

20

16

14

12

Freq1-without load
Freq1-with load

10
0(0)

3(0)

6(0)

12(0) 18(0) 18(3) 18(6) 18(12) 18(18) 25(25) 32(26) 35(35) 38(38)

Loads at left (right) span (kN)


(a) First mode

26
24
22
Frequency (Hz)

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Frequency (Hz)

18

20
18
16
14

Freq2-without load
Freq2-with load

12
10

0(0)

3(0)

6(0)

12(0)

18(0)

18(3)

18(6) 18(12) 18(18) 25(25) 32(26) 35(35) 38(38)

Loads at left (right) span (kN)

(b) Second mode


Fig. 6. Frequency changes with static load application.

(4) From Fig. 7, the damping ratios increase with the loading stage. The damping is
mainly from the friction in the cracks and between the steel bar and concrete.
Damping due to friction in the cracks reduces by increasing the residual crack
width while damping due to friction with the loss of bonding between the steel
bar and concrete increases. The damping ratio without the static load is larger
than that with the static load. This is because the static loads open the cracks
and the damping by the friction at the crack is reduced.

700

X. Zhu & H. Hao

4
3
2
Damp1-without load
Damp1-with load

1
0
0(0)

3(0)

6(0)

12(0) 18(0) 18(3) 18(6) 18(12) 18(18) 25(25) 32(26) 35(35) 38(38)

Loads at left (right) span (kN)


(a) First mode

5
4.5
4
Damping ratio (%)

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Damping ratio (%)

3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
Damp2-without load
Damp2-with load

1
0.5
0
0(0)

3(0)

6(0)

12(0) 18(0) 18(3) 18(6) 18(12) 18(18) 25(25) 32(26) 35(35) 38(38)

Loads at left (right) span (kN)


(b) Second mode
Fig. 7. Damping ratios changes with the static load applicaton.

4.4. Wavelet-based modal identication


In the following study, only the data without static loads on the slab is used. Considering the modal separation of the 1st and 2nd modes in the frequency domain and
the end-eect segments in the time domain, the parameters a and b are selected as 34
and 2.5.20 The accelerations at the middle of the left span are used for analysis.
Figure 8 shows the corresponding modal separation results for the undamaged case.
In the gure, the 1st and 2nd modes can be separated fully when the parameters are

2.5

front
middle
back

1.5
1
0.5

0.04

0.02

4
Amplitude

Wavelet Coefficient

701

-3

-5

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x 10

Amplitude

Wavelet Coefficient

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

0
-0.02
-0.04

50

100

front
middle
back

3
2
1

1
2
3
Time (second)

50
Frequency (Hz)

100

Fig. 8. The 1st and 2nd models and their FFT spectrum.

selected as 34 and 2.5. The separation results from the measurements at front,
middle, and back points are similar. This is because the 1st and 2nd modes are
bending modes.
Figure 9 shows the logarithm of amplitudes of the wavelet coecient corresponding to the 1st and 2nd modes, and the phases. In Fig. 9(a), the logarithm of the
wavelet coecient amplitude and the phase for the 1st mode are approximately linear
with respect to time. The slopes of these two curves are 2 1 f1 and 2fd1 ,
respectively. The results for the 2nd mode are shown in Fig. 9(b). There is obvious
oscillation at the end of logarithm of the wavelet coecient amplitude. This is due to
the low signal-to-noise ratio after 1 s as the signal attenuates with time. To exclude
the noisy data, only the rst 500 points (1 s) is analyzed.
Table 2 shows the natural frequencies and damping ratios by WT and a comparison with those by normal modal analysis. The accelerations at the center of the
left span for all loading stages are used in the analysis. In order to reduce the end
eects, the rst 50 points that correspond to the rst 0.1 s are not used and the
following 500 data points are used for least-squares curve-tting. From Table 2,
the natural frequencies by the wavelet-based method are close to those values from
the modal analysis. It shows that the wavelet-based method is eective and reliable
for determining the modal frequencies from the impact response. Prominent
reduction of the natural frequencies with the increased loads is observed only after a
few loading stages, indicating the natural frequencies are reliable indicators for

X. Zhu & H. Hao

-4

500

-6

400

Arg[W(a1,b)]

ln|W(a1,b)|

702

-8
-10
-12

2
Time (second)

front
middle
back

300
200
100
0

2
Time (second)

-2

800

-4

Arg[W(a2,b)]

ln|W(a2,b)|

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(a) 1st Mode

-6
-8
-10
-12

2
Time (second)

front
middle
back

600
400
200
0

2
Time (second)

(b) 2nd Mode


Fig. 9. Logarithm of amplitudes of wavelet coecients and phases.
Table 2. Comparison of frequencies and damping ratios by normal modal analysis and wavelet transform.
Loading stages

Normal modal analysis


Mode 1

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

Wavelet transform

Mode 2

Mode 1

Mode 2

Freq
(Hz)

Damp
(%)

Freq
(Hz)

Damp
(%)

Freq
(Hz)

Damp
(%)

Freq
(Hz)

Damp
(%)

17.82
17.83
17.83
17.44
16.92
16.72
16.51
16.42
15.79
14.89
14.29
13.34

1.26
1.85
2.11
1.99
3.32
3.45
3.15
2.99
4.64
5.35
5.14
5.17

25.48
25.44
25.40
24.82
24.10
23.90
23.66
23.54
22.27
21.51
20.54
16.79

2.21
2.40
2.45
2.49
2.71
2.76
2.61
2.74
3.50
4.04
3.76
4.54

17.84
17.77
17.78
17.38
16.80
16.62
16.35
16.28
15.70
14.87
14.33
13.37

0.73
1.37
1.73
1.56
1.91
2.03
1.90
1.89
2.85
3.94
3.48
4.26

25.48
25.47
25.45
24.85
24.15
23.90
23.65
23.50
22.25
21.47
20.52
16.92

1.90
2.09
2.24
2.15
2.15
2.37
2.32
2.46
2.47
2.27
2.65
2.42

damage detection of concrete structures only when the damage is relatively severe.
They are not sensitive to small damages. The modal damping ratios by the waveletbased method are, however, smaller than that by the modal analysis method. The
damping of the slab comes from two sources, one is from the frictional eect in

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

703

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the cracks and the other is due to the loss of bonding between the steel bar and the
concrete. The rst eect plays an increasing role with increasing crack depth and the
number of cracks up to the loading stage 6. More cracks opened up at the loading
stage 7 together with widening of the existing cracks. This crack widening eect
causes a reduction in damping. Its eect is more signicant than the damage eect
with more numbers of new cracks that increase damping. A combination of these two
eects leads to a reduction in the overall damping ratio. Additional loads cause the
overall damping ratio increase because the loss of bonding between the steel bar and
concrete occurred at these late loading stages and it resulted more energy loss in the
slab during vibrations.

5. Nonlinear Vibration Characteristics


5.1. Time-frequency relationship
From the foregoing results, large oscillations will be induced in the results if we obtain
the frequency and damping ratio by direct dierentiation. In this study, curve-tting
is used and then the frequency and damping ratio are calculated by the dierentiation of the tted function using Eq. (13). Figure 10 shows the curve-tting results
of the rst mode from dierent measurement locations when there is no damage in
the slab. In Fig. 10(a), the three tted curves are approximately parallel to each
other and the slopes of the three curves, corresponding to the measurements at L/8,
L/4, and 3L/8 along the slab from the left end, are 17.816, 17.899, and 17.930,
respectively, where L is the total length of the RC slab. The slope is related to the rst
modal frequency by Eq. (12). The initial values are dierent for those obtained at
dierent measurement locations because they are related to the mode shape information. In Fig. 10(b), all curves are very close to each other and this shows that they
correspond to the same frequency in Eq. (12). Figure 11 shows the curve-tting
results of the second mode from dierent measurement locations along the width of
the slab at L/8. The tted curves have also approximately a linear relationship and
are parallel to each other with slopes 25.223, 25.193, and 24.952, respectively. In
Fig. 11(b), all curves are very close to each other and this again shows that they
correspond to the same frequency by Eq. (12). These observations indicate that the
slope of the logarithm of amplitudes and the logarithm of phases of the wavelet
coecients of the measured vibration data are independent of the measurement
locations. In other words, at the same structure state, the measurement at a single
point will give the amplitude slope and the phases of the wavelet coecients.
Figure 12 shows the curve-tting results for undamaged case and loading stages 5
and 9 using polynomial functions from the measurement at L/8. In Fig. 12(a), the
slopes are 17.816, 16.798, and 14.149, respectively. In Fig. 12(b), the slopes of the
curves also reduce with the loading stage. In view of Eq. (12), the damping ratio
increases with the loading stage. The results show that the curve-tting is eective
for obtaining the time-varying properties of the logarithm of the wavelet coecient

704

X. Zhu & H. Hao

-4.8

120
1/8L
1/8L fitting
1/4L
1/4L fitting
3/8L
3/8L fitting

-5
-5.2
-5.4

1/8L
1/8L fitting
1/4L
1/4L fitting
3/8L
3/8L fitting

100

80
Fai(t)

lnB(t)

-5.6
-5.8

60

40

-6.2
-6.4

20

-6.6
-6.8
0

0.5
Time (second)

(a) Logarithm of amplitudes

0.5
Time (second)

(b) Phase

Fig. 10. Logarithm of amplitudes and phases of wavelet coecients corresponding to 1st mode.

-3
-3.5
-4
-4.5

180

1/8L
1/8L fitting
1/4L
1/4L fitting
3/8L
3/8L fitting

1/8L
1/8L fitting
1/4L
1/4L fitting
3/8L
3/8L fitting

160
140
120
Fai(t)

-5
lnB(t)

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-6

-5.5

100
80

-6
60

-6.5

40

-7

20

-7.5
-8

0.5
Time (second)

(a) Logarithm of amplitudes

0.5
Time (second)

(b) Phase

Fig. 11. Logarithm of amplitudes and phases of wavelet coecients corresponding to 2nd mode.

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

-5

120
L1
L1 fitting
L5
L5 fitting
L9
L9 fitting

-5.5
100
-6
80
Fai(t)

-6.5
lnB(t)

705

-7

60

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-7.5
40
-8
20
-8.5
-9

0.2
0.4
0.6
Time (second)

(a) Logarithm of the amplitude

0.5
Time (second)

(b) Phase of wavelet coecients

Fig. 12. Logarithm of amplitudes and phases of wavelet coecients for dierent loading stages.

amplitude and phase. These results also demonstrate the change of the slopes with
the loading stages or damage levels, indicating that they can be used as indicators for
damage identication.
Figure 13 shows the time-varying properties of the wavelet coecient amplitudes
and phases for dierent loading stages. In Fig. 13(a), loading stages 1, 5, 7, and 10
correspond to the undamaged case, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 damage case,
respectively. In each damage level, the slope of the curve increases with the loading
stage corresponding to the reduction of the natural frequency. The change between
the levels may be induced by the damping eect that is also shown in Fig. 13(b)
where the slope reduces with the loading stage number.
5.2. Possible candidates of signature for damage assessment
Figure 14 shows the timefrequency relationship for dierent loading stages using
the curve-tting. In these results, the starting value of the timefrequency
relationship reduces with the loading stage. For loading stages 1, 2, and 3, the
starting values are very similar but the slope of the curve increases with the loading
stage, as clearly shown at a late time. These results clearly demonstrate that the
timefrequency relationship can be used to detect the small changes in the rst three
loading stages, which are not detectable by using a constant modal frequency. As
discussed above, the mode shape and damping ratio do not show prominent changes
in these loading stages either. These observations indicate that the timefrequency

706

X. Zhu & H. Hao

-5
-5.5
-6

-7
-7.5
-8
-8.5
Loading
Loading
Loading
Loading

-9
-9.5
-10

0.2

stage 1
stage 5
stage 7
stage 10
0.4
0.6
Time (second)

0.8

(a) Logarithm of the wavelet coecients for dierent loading stages

120
Loading stage 1
Loading stage 5
Loading stage 7
Loading stage 10

100

80
Arg[W(A1,b)]

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ln|W(a1,b)|

-6.5

60

40

20

0.2

0.4
0.6
Time (second)

0.8

(b) Phases of wavelet coecients for dierent loading stages


Fig. 13. Logarithm of amplitudes and phases of wavelet coecients for dierent loadings stages.

relationship is more sensitive than frequency, mode shape, and damping ratio to
changes in structures. Similar observations can be drawn for loading stages 5 and 6.
The slope change could be caused by the nonlinear properties due to crack open and
close in the damaged concrete structure. These observations indicate that the

Damage Detection of RC Slabs Using Nonlinear Vibration Features

707

18.5
L3
18

L2

Frequency (Hz)

L1
L4

17.5

L6
L5

17

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L7
L8

16.5

16

0.2

0.4
0.6
Time (second)

0.8

Fig. 14. Time-frequency relationship for dierent loadings stages.

timefrequency relationship can be used as a better indicator of the nonlinear signature of the damaged concrete structures than modal properties.

6. Conclusions
The signatures of nonlinear vibration characteristics of damaged reinforced concrete
structures using WT have been presented. A two-span RC slab built in 2003 was
tested to failure in the laboratory. Vibration measurements were carried out at
various stages of structural damage. The results show that the skeleton curves and
the timefrequency relationship could be good indicators of damage in the reinforced
concrete structures. The slope of the timefrequency relationship from a single
measurement is signicantly more sensitive to damage than that of the frequency
change and it is a better indicator of damage in concrete structures than modal
properties. More measurements should be used to determine the damage location and
severity in future studies.

Acknowledgment
The rst author is supported by a University Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Scheme from the University of Western Australia.
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