You are on page 1of 8

International Journal of Civil, Structural

,
Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering
Research and Development (IJCSEIERD)
ISSN(P): 2249-6866; ISSN(E): 2249-7978
Vol. 5, Issue 5, Oct 2015, 1-8
© TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.

MEASUREMENT OF PHREATIC SURFACE IN RIVER EMBANKMENT USING
METALLIC TIME DOMAIN REFLECTOMETRY
JI-HYEUNG YOO1 & DAE-SUNG KIM2
1, 2

School of Construction Engineering, Kyungil University,

Gamasil-Gil, Gyeongsan-Si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea Seoul

ABSTRACT
Recently, Metallic Time Domain Reflectometry(MTDR) is actively being studied in the geotechnical
instrumentation field. This study is to propose a new geotechnical measurement method using MTDR. MTDR is an electric
measurement device which measures echo time of electric signal of probe installed on the ground by using conducting
property of electric signal of MTDR. Considering the fact that the electronic conducting property in the embankment is
changing according to the change of phreatic surface of river embankment, the correlation between the variation of
measured signal using MTDR and that of phreatic surface was analyzed. Research contents are as follows. First, MTDR
signal according to the underground water level was analyzed through laboratory test. Second, by applying to Nak-dong
river embankment of South Korea, the variation of phreatic surface according to lateral seepage were measured using
standpipe piezometer and MTDR. As a result of the study, monitoring method using MTDR can confirm in realtime
phreatic surface according to river water level and secure the safety of river embankment using the measured data.

KEYWORD: MTDR, River Embankment, Phreatic Surface, Measurement, Lateral Seepage
INTRODUCTION
Metallic Time Domain Reflectometry(MTDR) is a long distance electrical measurement technique and has been
used for a long time. This technique is to investigate location and characteristic of various object in space. MTDR was
introduced to locate the discontinuity point of transmission line in electric power and communication industry in 1950's.
Freller-Feldege(1969) expanded the use of MTDR in measuring liquid dielectric permittivity, verified that dielectric
permittivity of soil highly depends on the amount of water in soil by Topp et al(1980), and evaluated the additional
applicability of MTDR. Also, the transmission technique of MTDR signal using metallic rods on the in-situ soil was
researched by Topp and Davis(1985). Dasberg and Dalton(1985) conducted a research on MTDR to measure the soil salt.
As a result of studies mentioned above, a measurement technique for soil water content using MTDR became widely used
for optimization of agriculture and irrigation procedures. The MTDR technique became expanded to various fields
(researches on the deformation and monitoring of soils/rocks, etc)(O'Conner & Dowding, 1999). Recently, an improved
ASTM TDR method of soil moisture monitoring system was developed by researchers of Purdue University in the U.S.
that a research on the measurement method for gravimetric water content and density in the field ground is being carried
out(Siddiqui and Drnevich, 1995; Yu and Drnevich, 2004).
In this study is to propose a new geotechnical measurement method using MTDR. Considering the fact that the
electronic conducting property in the embankment is changing according to the change of phreatic surface of river
embankment, the correlation between the variation of measured signal using MTDR and that of phreatic surface was
www.tjprc.org

editor@tjprc.org

2

Ji-Hyeung Yoo & Dae-Sung Kim

analyzed.

PRINCIPLE OF MTDR AND GEOTECHNICAL APPLICATION
MTDR is derived from the same technology used in radar which has been used since 1930s. MTDR is measuring
reflection signal after the first release of short electromagnetic pulse. MTDR can be defined as a measuring equipment that
determines the location and character of an object by using a remote electricity sampling. TDR system is composed of a
pulse generator, sampler, oscilloscope, and coaxial cable in general. The pulse generator generates electrical step pulse and
sends it to the coaxial cable. Pulse flows down the coaxial cable and forms the electromagnetic field between inner and
outer conductor by a potential difference between conductors (Figure 1).

Figure1: Schematic of the Electromagnetic Field in Coaxial Line
(O'Conner & Dowding, 1999)
The electromagnetic field travels through a coaxial cable and generates a wave form. When every object between
inner and outer conductors are geometric or physically equal, the measured reflection signal is equal as well. However,
when discontinuity occurs in a coaxial cable, or cable changes geometrically or when medium between conductor changes,
distinct jump of the reflection signal can be observed. The time required for measuring reflection signal and type, length,
and amplitude of signal are all helpful in determining the location and character of defects. Therefore, impedance of probe
and cable is important for the measured value by MTDR, and impedance changes sensitively according to the shape,
diameter, and interval of probe(Siddiqui & Drnevich, 1995; Yu & Drnevich, 2004).
In geotechnical, MTDR is an electrical measurement equipment that measures the echo time of electronic signal
from installed probe inside soil using conducting property of electrical signal. A basic principle is measuring dielectric
constant and bulk electrical conductivity of soil using characteristics of an electromagnetic wave echoing back according to
the impedance change of surrounding medium of coaxial cable and probe while electromagnetic waves generated in the
pulse generator get spread through the coaxial cable and probe in soil. MTDR is used in measuring changes of the medium
by investigating spatial location and characteristics of cable using this principle.

LABORATORY EXPERIMENT
MTDR Measuring System
TDR100 equipment which was manufactured in CAMPBELL SCIENTIFIC, INC was used as in Figure 2 to
measure how pulse through MTDR probe reflects back along the probe inside soil, and used windows software PCTDR100
to decipher changes of the TDR wave form because there is no display function inside the MTDR measuring equipment.

Impact Factor (JCC): 5.9234

NAAS Rating: 3.01

Measurement of Phreatic Surface in River Embankment Using
Metallic Time Domain Reflectometry

3

Figure 2: MTDR Measuring Equipment (TDR100)
MTDR probe was manufactured based on the existing research data to measure phreatic surface according to the
lateral seepage of embankment. Probe used for the experiment consists of 2 stainless steel rods(φ5mm), interpenetrates in
the middle of borehole, and can measure the TDR signal by using a MTDR measuring equipment after filling up with
jumunjin sand.

Figure 3: MTDR Probe
Experiment on the Borehole Simulation Water Level Fluctuation
Borehole simulation water level fluctuation testing machine was manufactured to measure the TDR signal
changes according to the change of underground water level. The testing device was produced for lateral seepage and
lower seepage to be possible by water level, and equipments were made into tubes with transparent acrylic of diameter in
Φ76mm and 1.5m tall as same as the UD tube. For experiment on the borehole simulation water level fluctuation model,
TDR probe of 1.5m in length was interpenetrated into a testing device, standard sand was set to freefall, filled inside of a
testing device loosely, gradually increased the underground water level from below, and measured TDR signal at certain
water level. Figure 4 is a complete view of the borehole simulation water level fluctuation experiment.

Figure 4: Process of the Borehole Simulation Water
Level Fluctuation Experiment
www.tjprc.org

editor@tjprc.org

4

Ji-Hyeung Yoo & Dae-Sung Kim

Measurement Results of Experiment
The measurement results of MTDR reflection signal according to the change of ground water level(GWL) through
experiment on the borehole simulation water level changes are as shown in Figure 5 and Figure 6.

Figure 5: 1st Reflection Signal According to the GWL

Figure 6: 2nd Reflection Signal According to the GWL
As in Figure 5, the first reflection signal is appearing in the same place regardless of GWL change, and the point
that represents the first reflection signal is a boundary of soil and air. Also, the second reflection signal is moving towards
the first reflection signal as the GWL increased as shown in Figure 6. The second reflection signal is phreatic surface
according to the increased GWL.

EVALUATION OF FIELD APPLICABILITY
Field Experiment
This study evaluated the field applicability of the phreatic surface measurement technique using MTDR
technique. To this end, standpipe piezometer and MTDR probe were installed in the Nak-dong river embankment of South
KOREA to compare and analyze the fluctuation measurement of phreatic surface. Figure 7 represents the installation
location, and Figure 8 is a embankment section for measurement sensors installation. Figure 9 represents the complete
view of field instrumentation.

Impact Factor (JCC): 5.9234

NAAS Rating: 3.01

5

Measurement of Phreatic Surface in River Embankment Using
Metallic Time Domain Reflectometry

Figure 7: Embankment for Applying MTDR Method (Nak-Dong River, South KOREA)

Figure 8: Embankment Section for Measurement Sensors Installation

Figure 9: MTDR Signal Measurement
Site Monitoring Results
Figure 10 is the two-month measurement results of MTDR from September to October, 2014. As a result, the first
reflection signal is showing clearly, and the second reflection signal changes according to the phreatic surface.

Figure 10: MTDR Measurement Results

www.tjprc.org

editor@tjprc.org

6

Ji-Hyeung Yoo & Dae-Sung Kim

Figure 11 represents the comparison of phreatic surface fluctuation which was measured through MTDR
technique and standpipe piezometer. Figure 12 represents the measurement results analysis example. Results of MTDR
measuring data analysis, first reflection signal is air/soil interface. And then it shows a constant dry zone. Interval of
irregular signal is partially saturated zone. Fully saturated zone siganl is similar to the dry zone signal. Analysis of results,
standpipe piezometer and MTDR measurement results are almost the same.

Figure 11: Measurement Results Comparison of
MTDR and Standpipe Piezometer

Figure 12: Measurement Results Analysis

CONCLUSIONS
This study was conducted to measure the fluctuation of free water surface by lateral seepage of embankment using
MTDR which is being researched actively in the geotechnical measurement field. MTDR signal change according to the
fluctuation of ground water level was analyzed for an laboratory experiment. Standpipe piezometer and MTDR probe were
installed in the Nak-dong river embankment of South KOREA to compare and analyze the fluctuation measurement of
phreatic surface. And field application of the MTDR technique was evaluated. The results of field application evaluation,
monitoring technique of river embankment using MTDR can check the phreatic surface according to the river stage, and
can secure the safety of river embankment with measurement results.

REFERENCES
1.

Dasberg, S. and Dalton, F.N. 1985. Time Domain Reflectometry Field Measurement of Soil Water Content and
Electrical Conductivity, Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 49, pp. 293-297.

Impact Factor (JCC): 5.9234

NAAS Rating: 3.01

Measurement of Phreatic Surface in River Embankment Using
Metallic Time Domain Reflectometry

2.

7

Drnevich, V. P., Yu, Xiong, Lovell, Janet and Tishmack, Jody. 2001. Temperature Effects on Dielectric Constant
Determined by Time Domain Reflectometry, Proceeding of the Second International Symposium and workshop
on Time Domain Reflectometry for Innovative Geotechnical Applications, Northwestern University, Evanston,
Illinois.

3.

Fellner-Feldegg, J. 1969. The Measurement of Dielectrics in Time Domain, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Vol.
73, pp. 616-623.

4.

O'Connor, K., and Dowding, C. 1999. GeoMeasurements by Pulsing TDR Cables and Probes, A book published
by CRC Press LLC.

5.

Siddiqui, S. I. and Drnevich, V. P. 1995. Use of Time Domain Reflectometry for Determination of Water Content
and Density of Soil, FHWA/IN/JHRP-95/9, Prudue University.

6.

Topp, G. C., Davis, J. L. and Annan, A. P. 1980. Electromagnetic Determination of Soil Water Content and
Electrical Conductivity Measurement Using Time Domain Reflectometry, Water Resources Research, Vol.16,
pp.574~582.

7.

Yu, X. and Drnevich, V. P.(2004), Soil Water Content and Dry Density by Time Domain Reflectometry, The
Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE, accepted for publication, to appear in
Vol.130, Issue 9.

www.tjprc.org

editor@tjprc.org