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A smart decision-support GIS-based tool for the optimization of pipeline routing

taking into consideration the potential geohazards


by
Prodromos N. PSARROPOULOS1, Stefanos TSOUGRANIS2,
Andreas A. ANTONIOU3
National Technical University, Athens, Greece
1

Structural & Geotechnical Engineer, M.Sc., Ph.D.


2
3

Surveying Engineer

Geotechnical Engineer, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT
Many onshore and offshore oil and gas pipelines that will be constructed in the future
may face various challenges related to the terrain or the seabed and the potential
geohazards. Undoubtedly, in areas that are characterized by moderate or high
seismicity, such as south-east Europe, north Africa, Middle East, etc., these challenges
may be greater. The experience from the past worldwide has shown that the qualitative
and especially the quantitative assessment of various geohazards, such as slope
instabilities, active faults, soil liquefaction phenomena, is a key issue that may dominate
the routing, the design, and the construction of an onshore or offshore pipeline. On the
other hand, it is evident that, the later the problematic areas are identified, the more the
problems may derive during the phases of design and/or construction. The current
paper, after a short description of the main geohazards, describes a smart decisionsupport tool that has recently been developed by the authors in a geographic
information system (GIS) for (a) the quantitative assessment of various geohazards
along a pipeline route (i.e. the identification of the "problematic areas") and (b) the
consequent optimization of the pipeline routing. The tool may achieve the optimum
routing, taking into consideration various criteria apart from the geohazards, such as
distance minimization, avoidance of critical areas, land use, environmental constrains,
etc. The tool has been verified through three case studies in south-east Europe, two
onshore pipelines and one offshore pipeline. The results demonstrate the capability of
the tool to manipulate, analyze, and manage all the available spatial data that are
directly or indirectly related to geohazards (i.e. topographical, geological, geotechnical
and seismological data) and to support the geoscientists and the pipeline engineers to
avoid all the problematic areas as soon as possible.

1. INTRODUCTION
Modern society demands increasing availability and reliability of energy and water
supply, together with improved environmental standards, all making for substantial
challenges. Regarding the oil & gas industry, major onshore or offshore pipelines will
traverse remote regions with extreme terrain or seabed. Many pipeline projects, existing
or planned, are in mountains and deserts, tropical jungles, in permafrost, wetlands or
deep waters. Each of these natural environments is associated with a range of
geohazards. The term "geohazard" is used to describe any geological, hydro-geological
or geomorphologic event or process that poses an immediate or potential risk that may
lead to damage or uncontrolled risk, while the main geohazards may include landslides,
soil erosion, karst, and/or river migration. In parallel, many guidelines and norms
worldwide, recognize that the terrain or seabed, the soil types, and the geohazards
traversed by the pipelines are key factors to consider in the design, construction,
operation and maintenance of a pipeline project.
Evidently, the identification of the geohazards during the very early stages of the
pipeline design and the subsequent avoidance of the problematic areas is the optimum
solution. Nevertheless, since pipelines are usually long structures all geo-hazardous
areas cannot be avoided. As shown in Figure 1a, any structure may be distressed by
external loading, and/or induced permanent ground deformations (PGDs). Although the
pipeline response and distress is dominated by the operational loading (i.e. gravity,
internal and external pressures, and differences of the temperature), any PGDs may
alter substantially the pipeline strain levels, making thus the pipeline analysis and
design a complicated problem of soil-structure interaction. Under this perspective, the
term "effective treatment" may have two meanings. From a geotechnical point of view,
the treatment should aim to the elimination of the expected PGDs, while from a
structural point of view, the treatment requires the pipeline verification and the increase
of its structural capacity.

Figure 1a. Sketch showing the main types of structural distress due to
(a) external loading and/or (b) induced PGDs at the foundation level.

Nevertheless, in areas that are characterized by moderate or high seismicity (and the
interrelated volcanism), earthquake-related geohazards may be present as well. As
shown in Figure 1b, the main earthquake-related geohazards are the strong ground
motion (or the seismic wave loading in the case of a buried pipeline) and mainly the
PGDs due to active fault ruptures, soil liquefaction phenomena, and/or earthquaketriggered slope instabilities. Note that strong ground motion and active fault ruptures are
direct threats to any pipeline, while soil liquefaction phenomena (i.e. pore pressure
build-up, vertical settlements and/or later spreading) and slope instabilities are regarded
as indirect threats to a pipeline as they are actually ground failures due to the strong
ground motion.
lake
or sea

active - fault
rupture

slope
soil
instability
liquefaction
soft soil layers

stiff soil layers

hard rock

seismic waves
focus

Figure 1b. Sketch showing the main earthquake-related geohazards (i.e. strong ground
motion, active-fault rupture, soil liquefaction phenomena and slope instabilities).
Figure 2 shows case histories of damaged pipelines in areas that are characterized by
high seismicity (such as Turkey, Taiwan, USA, Japan), indicating that pipelines, mainly
the buried ones, are sensitive to earthquake-related geohazards and the consequent
PGDs.
Figure 3 demonstrates the existing pipeline network in Europe versus the seismic
hazard in terms of peak ground acceleration at the rock outcrop or at the bedrock. It is
evident that in north Europe, where plenty of onshore and offshore pipelines have
already been constructed, the seismic hazard is very low, while on the contrary, the
seismic hazard is rather high in South Europe, where many new onshore and offshore
pipelines are expected to transfer in the near future most of the hydrocarbons of north
Africa, Middle East, central Asia and Mediterranean Sea to central and north Europe.
As the occurrence of the design earthquake is an extreme phenomenon that is
expected to shake a wide area and it has a certain probability of occurrence depending
on the lifetime of the pipeline project (e.g. 50 years), the earthquake-related geohazards
cannot be identified at an early stage of the design when the available data are rather
limited, and therefore the geoscientists are capable to identify only qualitatively the
potentially problematic areas. In many cases where the avoidance of a potentially
problematic area is not feasible, the quantitative assessment and effective treatment of
an earthquake-related geohazard is a demanding and challenging issue directly related
to the pipeline integrity.

Figure 2. Case histories of damaged pipelines due to fault crossings and soil
liquefaction during earthquakes: (a) 1999 Kocaeli, Turkey, (b) 1999 ChiChi, Taiwan, (c)
1971 San Fernando, USA, (d) 1993 Nansei-Oki, Japan.

Figure 3. The existing pipeline network in Europe versus the seismic hazard in terms of
peak ground acceleration at the rock outcrop or at the bedrock.

In parallel, according to the modern seismic philosophy and the related concept of
strain-based design, that try to keep a balance between safety and economy, repairable
damages to a pipeline (i.e. exceedance of the yield strain) may be allowed or accepted,
provided that the non-failure requirement has been fulfilled (i.e. non exceedance of the
failure strain). Obviously, the aforementioned are valid only in the cases of onshore or
shallow-water offshore pipelines, and not in the case of a deep water offshore pipeline
where the repair of damages is rather impossible and therefore the exceedance of yield
strain is unacceptable. Nevertheless, it has to be emphasized that, if the pipeline owner
/ operator prefers conservatism to avoid the potential repairable damages and the
subsequent interruption of supply in the case of design earthquake, the treatment of
earthquake-related geohazards may increase substantially the construction time and
cost.
Based to the aforementioned, it becomes evident that, the later the problematic areas
are identified, the more the problems may derive during the phases of design and/or
construction. The current paper, after a short description of the main geohazards,
describes a smart decision-support tool that has recently been developed by the
authors in a geographic information system (GIS) for (a) the quantitative assessment of
various geohazards along a pipeline route (i.e. the identification of the "problematic
areas") and (b) the consequent optimization of the pipeline routing. The tool may
achieve the optimum routing, taking into consideration various criteria apart from the
geohazards, such as distance minimization, avoidance of critical areas, land use,
environmental constrains, etc. The tool has been verified through three case studies in
south-east Europe, two onshore pipelines and one offshore pipeline. The results
demonstrate the capability of the tool to manipulate, analyze, and manage all the
available spatial data that are directly or indirectly related to geohazards (i.e.
topographical, geological, geotechnical and seismological data) and to support the
geoscientists and the pipeline engineers to avoid all the problematic areas as soon as
possible.

2. PIPELINE ROUTING AND GEOHAZARDS


Before the presentation of the smart tool, the need of determining the basic criteria of
the optimum pipeline routing is evident. As described in IPLOCA (2013), the route
selection process described below is a typical approach of a pipeline routing between
the known start and end points and any intermediate off take points. A description
covering all potential options would be impossible since every pipeline routing selection
process is not similar to any other because of differences in location, land use, terrain,
infrastructure, local permits and regulations, environment, and archeology. Furthermore,
each route selection phase will depend on the project schedule. It is entirely
conceivable to complete and approve the final route in the project planning phase (i.e.
FEED phase), whilst other projects may not do so until the project execution phase (i.e.
detailed design phase). The final route selected must be safe, environmentally
acceptable, economical and practical.

A pipeline route is a pivotal piece of information upon which the pipeline engineering
depends. The route will define the pipeline size, terrain, soils, and engineering analysis
requirements. Engineering assessment based upon an agreed alignment selection
criteria is an important part of a linear project. To be able to reach the best construction
line and optimize its components, the following phases should be studied in the given
order:
Corridor
Defining route
Alignment
Construction line selection
The detailed pipeline route selection is preceded by defining a broad area of search
between the two fixed start and end points. That is, possible pipeline corridors. The
route can then be filtered with consideration of public safety, pipeline integrity,
environmental impact, consequences of escape of fluid, and based on social, economic,
technical environmental grounds, constructability, land ownership, access, regulatory
requirements and cost. Economic, technical, environmental and safety considerations
should be the primary factors governing the choice of pipeline routes. The shortest route
might not be the most suitable, and physical obstacles, environmental constraints and
other factors, such as locations of intermediate off take points to end users along the
pipeline route should be considered. Off take points may dictate mainline routing so as
to minimize the need or impact of the off take lines or spurs. It should be noted that
many route constraints will have technical solutions, and each will have an associated
cost.
Pipeline routing is an iterative process, which starts with a wide corridor of interest and
then narrows down to a more defined route at each design stage as more data is
acquired, to a final right of way (ROW). Initially, a number of alternative corridors with
widths up to 10 km wide are reviewed. Typically, the route alignment steps can be
described as shown below (see Figure 4). Each project will have its own specific
corridor-narrowing process depending on project size and location. Pipeline corridors
should initially be selected to avoid key constraints. The route can then be further
refined through an iterative process, involving consultation with stakeholders and
landowners and a review of the criteria of environmental impact assessment, to avoid
additional identified constraints. The ultimate aim is to achieve an economically and
environmentally-feasible route for construction.

Figure 4. Narrowing down of pipeline corridor during project stages (after IPLOCA 2013)
As shown in Figure 4, the routing activities within project phases are presented below:
Route Corridor options [FEL 1, Appraise] : Involves the initial desk-top studies (e.g.
topographical and geological maps) to identify route corridor options taking into account
known key environmental and cultural sensitivities.
Route Selection [FEL 2, Select] : The desk study and visual appraisal, making use of all
information available within the public domain, that should precede the adoption of a
provisional route within the selected route corridor. The included information regard
geological, archaeological and environmental features.
Route investigation and consultation [FEL 3, Define, FEED]: This stage involves
gathering more detailed information, highlighting and mapping constraints within the
route corridor so as to assist in the selection of a preferred final route. This allows the
project to proceed onto the next stage of negotiations. All the constraints and potential
planning problems that could affect the pipeline (e.g. timing or method of construction)
should now be addressed and recorded. A traffic management plan should be
produced.

Design and approval of final route [Project Execution Phase, detailed design] : This is
the final phase to define the best line and its components. Local planning authority and
statutory approvals, and landowner/tenant agreements, should now be finalized. The
route of the pipeline should be identified by a locating system such as markers placed
along the route. Valve locations, AGI locations, river crossings, and geo-hazardous area
crossings should be investigated in detail, and readied for construction. The physical
building and commissioning of the pipeline should now be able to commence in
accordance with the design criteria.
The geohazards under static conditions along the pipeline route define the "problematic
areas" from a geotechnical point of view, where the PGDs and the consequent pipeline
distress will examine their "criticality" from a structural point of view. Thus, geohazards
under static conditions should be identified at a very early stage (e.g. before FEED
phase) and they may dominate the pipeline routing.
Nevertheless, in areas characterized by moderate or high seismicity the geohazard
assessment requires the identification of all the hazards that are in some way related to
the seismic activity. In the case of a moderate or strong earthquake, the varying (both in
time and space) seismic motion at the ground surface may impose additional distress to
the pipelines, which is usually described by the term seismic wave loading.
Nevertheless, a seismic event may also aggravate the aforementioned gravity-related
geohazards by triggering a slope instability (such as a landslide or a rockfall) and/or
may cause additional geohazards to the pipeline (such as the rupture of an active fault
or soil liquefaction phenomena). It has to be noted that the PGDs that may be caused
by a fault rupture, soil liquefaction phenomena, and/or earthquake-triggered slope
instabilities (i.e. pre-existing landslides or first-time failures) are of great importance in
the seismic design of a pipeline since they are regarded in general as a more severe
loading than seismic wave loading. In the case of "earthquake-related geohazards"
along the pipeline route, "potentially problematic areas" should be defined at an early
stage of the design, while these areas should be examined in the FEED phase (when
more input data are available) in order to examine their possibility to become
"problematic areas" in terms of PGDs or even "critical areas" in terms of pipeline strain.
Based on the aforementioned, Figure 5 summarizes the options for the optimum design
of gas transmission projects (i.e. pipelines and compressor stations) against ground
movements. For the time being, the newly developed smart tool is capable to define the
"problematic areas" and the "potentially problematic areas" (through the quantitative
assessment of safety factors) and to propose either the avoidance of these areas or the
minimization of the pipeline crossings with them.
Nevertheless, the geohazard of slope instability has some peculiarities for various
reasons. Experienced geoscientists, judging from the prevailing topographical and
geological conditions, may identify a pre-existing landslide and/or estimate qualitatively
the risk of slope instability under static conditions, but, since geoscientists are rather
incapable to estimate realistically the impact of a moderate or a strong earthquake to

the aforementioned risk (especially to a slope regarded as stable under static


conditions), they should rely on the modern seismic norms which require:

Figure 5. Flowchart showing the optimum design of gas transmission projects (i.e.
pipelines and compressor stations) against ground movements.
a) the quantitative assessment of seismic slope instability potential (i.e. analyses in
order to estimate the anticipated safety factors of slope stability and the PGDs for
the pre-existing and the first-time failures), and
b) the consequent pipeline verifications (i.e. soil-structure interaction analyses in order
to estimate the anticipated pipeline strain levels).
More specifically, according to EN1998 Part 4, that refers to the seismic design of
onshore pipelines:
Buried pipelines crossing areas where soil failures or concentrated distortions are
possible, like lateral spreading, liquefaction, landslides and fault movements, shall be
designed to resist these phenomena.
The segment of the pipeline deformed by the displacement of the ground caused by a
landslide shall be verified not to exceed the available ductility of the material in tension
and not to buckle locally or globally in compression.
The seismic design of buried pipeline systems shall take into account the permanent
deformations induced by earthquakes (such as seismic fault displacements, landslides,
ground displacements induced by liquefaction)

Based on available data and experience, reasoned assumptions should be used to


define a model for the hazard of permanent deformations.
The possibility of such phenomena (i.e. earthquake-induced ground movements)
occurring at given sites shall be established and appropriate models shall be defined
(see EN1998 Part 5)"
According to EN1998 Part 5, that refers to the assessment of seismic slope instability:
A verification of ground stability shall be carried out for structures to be erected on or
near natural or artificial slopes, in order to ensure that the safety and/or serviceability of
the structures is preserved under the design earthquake.
The response of ground slopes to the design earthquake shall be calculated either by
means of established methods of dynamic analysis (such as finite elements or rigid
block models) or by simplified pseudo-static methods.
3. DESCRIPTION OF THE MODEL
After describing the physical framework of the problem that the tool aspires to solve, it is
important to focus on the new GIS model and the software it was developed on.
Specifically, the software used on making this model is ArcMap v.10.2.2, a part of
ESRI's ArcGIS programme suite.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are scientific and technological tools that allow
the integration of data from different sources into a central database (geodatabase)
from which they are formed and analyzed based on their spatial component. In the
general sense, the term describes any information system that integrates, stores,
processes, analyzes, distributes and displays geographic information. Their main aim is
to understand the relationship between theoretically unconnected, data and patterns
and trends are presented to them.
A GIS can relate, as mentioned earlier, unrelated information using as variable capital key (key index variable) location. Locations or areas on earth spacetime can be
recorded as dates and times of occurrence and / or as a set of three dimensional
coordinates x, y and z, which represent the longitude, latitude and, usually geometric,
height respectively. All reports of spatiotemporal location and extent of land should,
ideally, be able to relate to each other and finally a "real" physical location or area. This
basic feature of GIS has begun to open new ground in many areas of scientific research
and makes it necessary to processes where spacetime plays an important role.
Their main feature, however, is that these spatial data are associated with those
descriptive data. This connectivity provides a more detailed view of spatial data, but
also a spatial substance of the descriptive data. The technology used for this operation
is based on object-oriented data models, where both descriptive and spatial data are
merged into objects which model others with physical substance (e.g. Category =
"street", Name = "St. Johns street" Geometry = "[X1, Y1], [X2, Y2] ..." Width = "20
meters").

The vast majority of the raw data in a current GIS are represented digitally, through the
collection using digital space surveying methods (Tracking Systems, Global Positioning
/ GPS, Remote Sensing) or digitizing analog data (printed maps, etc.). Computers
represent data in the form of binary digits 0 and 1, so any given point on the Earth's
surface is eventually reduced by the GIS system to a combination of 0 and 1. In
particular, the data represent real entities (e.g., roads, land use, topography, trees,
rivers, etc.), with the digital data to determine the final mixture. The real objects can be
divided into two categories, which are the two fundamental ways of geographical
representation: discrete objects and continuous fields. The consideration of discrete
objects (e.g. a building) represents the geographical world in the form of objects with
defined boundaries in an otherwise empty space. Rather, the vision of continuous field
(e.g. amount of rainfall, topography, etc.) represents the real world with a finite number
of variables, each of which is determined by the value in each possible position
(Longley et al., 2010). The continuous field and the discrete objects, however, are two
conceptual considerations of geographic phenomena and do not solve the
aforementioned issue of digital representation. The problem is that both considerations
contain infinite amount of information in the case of variable definition per each point,
which cannot be represented due to technical limitations of computers. The two
methods used to limit the geographical phenomena in forms that can be encoded on
computer data bases are mosaic (single raster) and vector representation (Figure 6a).
Theoretically, both can be used to encode both the continuous and discrete entities, in
practice, however, the mosaic representation is associated with continuous fields and
the vector with the discrete objects.

Figure 6a. The difference of representation of real objects in the vector and raster
representation respectively is evident.
The vector data model representation, as mentioned above, is based on the assumption
that the earth's surface is composed of discrete objects such as trees, rivers, lakes, etc.
These objects can be represented as a point, linear and polygonal bodies with welldefined boundaries. The boundaries of these entities are defined by pairs of coordinates
(x, y), both of which are mentioned in one place in the real world (Figure 7). Specifically:
Point entities are defined by a pair of coordinates (x, y).
Linear entities defined as two or more coordinate pairs (x, y).
The polygonal entities defined by lines close to form the polygon.
In each vector representation model each entity is assigned a unique numerical
identifier value which is stored as a record in a list of attributes (attribute table). In the

mosaic data representation Earth is represented as a grid of cells of equal size, to which
they are assigned properties features. A single cell represents a portion of land to size
and is the basic model parser (Figure 6b). Unlike the vector data model, wherein the
coordinate pairs (x, y) are used to define the shape and location of entities in the mosaic
data model only a pair (x, y) is substantially present, called the pair of origin and defines
the position of each cell. This pair can be referred to the center of the cell or one of its
edges. Also, each cell is assigned a numerical value, which may represent any kind of
information about a specific location such as altitude measurement (Figure 6b) or a
code number identifying the type of vegetation.

Figure 6b: Pairs of Coordinates in a vector data model (left) and pairs of coordinates in
a raster data model (right).
After the description of data models and their way of representation, it is appropriate to
mention some basic concepts of GIS, which are key mechanisms and guidance
terminologies assist the overall view and understanding of subsequent case studies. In
particular, as key concepts considered are:
Geographical position or location (location): A certain position on the earth's surface,
defined under used geographic reference system.
Geographic reference system (geographical coordinate system): It is the geographic
coordinate system (latitude, longitude) to which they relate the data collected.
Spatial distribution: The order in which the objects, events, etc. located at the earth
surface are distributed in space.
Spatial geographical entities: It is defined geometric shapes that have a place in
reality and depicted on maps in accordance with this (http://xsomaras.somweb.gr/,
2013), and constitute the geographical space. They are divided into point, linear and
polygonal.
Topology: In the field of Geoinformatics (which include the GIS) means the sum of
the geometric rules that geographical information should follow, depending on its
nature. A typical example is a building polygon represented as a polygon, whose
boundaries do not coincide with those of neighboring polygons, ie avoid their
duplication.
Geodatabase or geographic database: It is a database in which to store a set of
geographical and descriptive data, while providing the ability to edit and update.

Table characteristics or properties (attribute table): Archives of the geodatabase that


contains information about a set of geographic features, which are usually arranged
in tabular form (table). Each set (row) represents a single entity called record, and
each column represents an attribute of an entity, called the field. In data sets
mosaics, each line of the attribute table corresponds to a specific range of cells that
have the same value. Note that the fields unique identifier number (ObjectID), area
(Shape_Area) and plate length (Shape_Length) created and automatically populated
by the GIS software for vector data, while mosaics data fields unique identifier
number (ObjectID), characteristic value and the number of alerts (Count).
Layer: The visual representation of a geographic dataset in any digital map
environment. Conceptually, it is a slice (slice) or a layer (stratum) geographic reality
in a particular area and is approximately equivalent to a paper map (Figure 6c). In a
road map, for example, roads, national parks, political boundaries, rivers etc. can be
regarded as different layers.

Figure 6c: An example of layer overlay, aiming to a realistic representation of real world.
Query: It is a user request of GIS software examining the list of characteristics based
on the specified criteria and displays those features or records that meet the criteria.
Structured Query Language (SQL): Reported as a special purpose programming
language SQL, is designed to manage the data in a database system (Forouzan and
Mosharraf, 2010). Based on formal algebra and relational calculus tuple (tuple
relational calculus), which expresses the relationship between a database data
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQL, 2015).
After establishing what a GIS is and explaining some of its basic concepts and
terminologies, the procedure of constructing the model that was used by the smart tool
can be further analyzed. Modeling real situations using GIS in order to obtain
conclusions about the real world itself (GIS - Enabled Modeling), is a new and
innovative stream that is beginning to be explored and applied in many projects of
complex character. Having already emphasized the importance of geohazards and
presented the intricate and complicated problem of selecting and making a pipeline

route, this paper investigates the usefulness of GIS on the definition of possible
occurrence of geohazards areas and modeling of the path selection problem of a
pipeline, including the aforementioned criterion (hazardous areas).
The definition of the pipeline route was based on a multi-criteria analysis, which was,
executed through creating and applying models that used the collected data. The
models are simulations of the real world, which operate with a subtract sense. At the
process of removing from the available information excluded items are either not
considered significant by the investigator to uncover the reality either simplify the
framework within which take place the selected procedures. The models for each case
study were constructed by using the Model Builder tool of Arcmap programme. Their
construction was introducing tools of the standard toolbox of ArcToolbox and supplying
the data to the corresponding geodatabase as parametric values for their execution.
Data input to a tool (input) and export results (output) this is the basic process of
modeling, since the final form emerges as a logical sequence of such procedures: "A
model is built by connecting processes".
Note that the models applied followed some logical steps which were:

Proper configuration of input data (vector or raster), depending on each tools


restrictions
Definition of potentially dangerous areas through superposition of the data layers
Set start point and end of the pipeline route
Creating qualitative cost surface based on the overlay of thematic levels of
possible occurrence of geohazards and distance costs
Ultimately making the best path based on the least total cost

4. CASE STUDIES
As mentioned before, the tool has been verified through three case studies of pipelines
in south-east Europe. The two case studies refer to onshore pipelines in west Greece,
while the third refers to an offshore pipeline between Albania and Italy, in Adriatic Sea.
4.1. Case study 1: Onshore pipeline in north western Greece
The first case study refers to an onshore gas pipeline in north-western Greece (see
Figure 7). The wider area under examination is characterized by moderate to high
seismicity and the main geohazard is the potential slope instabilities under static and
seismic conditions. Since in this case study the pipeline routing has been finalized, the
smart tool is not used for route optimization, but for the quantitative assessment of slope
instability and the identification of the "problematic areas". Figure 8 shows the available
topographical information (i.e. Digital Elevation Model) and geotechnical information (i.e.
soil categories and mechanical properties) that have been used as input data for the
smart tool. Figure 9 shows the results of the smart tool in terms of (a) safety factors of
slope stability under static conditions, and (b) critical acceleration.

Note that a pre-existing geological study had tried to identify qualitatively the "potentially
problematic areas" under static conditions (i.e. the slopes characterized by low stability)
and a geotechnical (earthquake) engineering study that had been performed by the
authors in the past had calculated the corresponding safety factors of slope stability
under static and seismic conditions. In the case of static conditions, the relatively good
comparison between (a) the "potentially problematic areas" of the geological study, (b)
the "problematic areas" identified by the geotechnical engineering study, and (c) the
"problematic areas" predicted by the smart tool demonstrates the capability of the
developed tool to support the work and the engineering judgment of the geoscientists.

Figure 7. Map showing the area of the first case study (onshore pipeline in north
western Greece).

Figure 8. Input data of the first case study: (a) topographical data (i.e. Digital Elevation
Model), and (b) geotechnical data (i.e. soil categories and mechanical properties).

Figure 9. Results of the smart tool for the first case study:
(a) static safety factors, and (b) critical acceleration.
4.2. Case study 2: Onshore pipeline in the town of Preveza, western Greece
The second case study refers to an onshore pipeline that could hypothetically cross the
small town of Preveza, western Greece (see Figure 10). In this case study the smart
tool was utilized in order to obtain the optimum pipeline routing. Apart from the criteria of
distance minimization and avoidance of certain areas (i.e. urban areas, archeological
sites, and lakes), the smart tool may identify and avoid the problematic areas in terms of
geohazards taking into account the potential slope instabilities and the hazard of soil
liquefaction. Figures 11, 12 and 13 show the input data of this case study, while Figure
14 shows the results of the optimum pipeline routing depending on the desired
combination of the weights of each criterion.

Figure 10. Map showing the area of the second case study (onshore pipeline in the
town of Preveza, western Greece).

Figure 11. Topographical data of the second case study (i.e. Digital Elevation Model).

Figure 12. Input data of the second case study: (a) land use (i.e. urban areas,
archeological sites) and environmental constraints (i.e. lakes), and (b) soil categories.

Figure 13. Input data of the second case study: (a) ground water level, and (b)
acceleration levels according to a microzonation study.

Figure 14. Pipeline route optimization depending on the weights for the four criteria.
Four different cases have been examined: (a) 25% to all criteria, (b) 40% to the criterion
of minimum distance and 20% to all the rest criteria, (c) 40% to the criterion of
avoidance of certain areas, 30% to the criterion of the avoidance of liquefiable areas,
and 15% to all the rest criteria, (d) 30% to the criterion of minimum distance and to the
criterion of avoidance of certain areas and 20% to all the rest criteria.
4.3. Case study 3: Offshore pipeline in the Adriatic Sea
The third case study refers to an offshore gas pipeline that could connect Albania and
Italy, in the Adriatic Sea (see Figure 15). In this case study the smart tool was utilized in
order to obtain the optimum pipeline routing. The smart tool may identify, avoid or
minimize the length of the pipeline crossings with the problematic areas in terms of
geohazards taking into account the potential active faults and the hazard of soil
liquefaction. Figures 16 show the input data of this case study, while Figure 17 shows
the results of the optimum pipeline routing depending on the desired combination of the
weights of each criterion.

Figure 15. Map showing the area of the third case study (offshore gas pipeline in the
Adriatic Sea).

Figure 16. Input data of the third case study: (a) areas of high concentration of
sediments, (b) potentially active faults, and (c) acceleration levels.

Figure 17. Pipeline route optimization depending on the weights for the two criteria.
Two cases have been examined: (a) 30% to the criterion of avoidance of liquefiable
areas and 70% to the criterion of avoidance of active faults, (b) 70% to the criterion of
avoidance of liquefiable areas and 30% to the criterion of avoidance of active faults.

5. CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS


The current study describes a smart decision-support GIS-based tool that has been
developed by the authors for the optimization of pipeline routing taking into
consideration the potential geohazards, with special emphasis to the earthquake-related
geohazards (i.e. active fault ruptures, soil liquefaction phenomena and slope
instabilities). The tool may achieve the optimum pipeline routing, taking into
consideration various criteria apart from the geohazards, such as distance minimization,
avoidance of critical areas, land use, environmental constrains, etc. The tool has been
verified through three case studies in south-east Europe, two onshore pipelines and one
offshore pipeline. The results demonstrate the capability of the tool to manipulate,
analyze, and manage all the available spatial data that are directly or indirectly related
to geohazards (i.e. topographical, geological, geotechnical and seismological data) and
to support the geoscientists and the pipeline engineers to avoid all the problematic
areas.
Since the developed tool is based on analytical equations that estimate quantitatively,
but empirically, the factors of safety for various geohazards (and thus to identify the
problematic areas), the smart tool is currently being improved with an automatic
external communication with various geotechnical codes / programs capable to assess
more realistically the various geohazards (e.g. slope instability). In that case the
communication includes the automatic generation of 2-D (or even 3-D) models at
certain locations of the terrain (or the seabed in the case of offshore pipelines) and the
realistic assessment of the safety factors (and the potential PGDs).
As mentioned before, the qualitative assessment of geohazards may define the extend
of the "potentially problematic areas", while the quantitative assessment may lead to the
deterministic identification of the "problematic areas". Nevertheless, since the structural
capacity of the pipeline is an important factor that should be taken into consideration in
order to decide whether a "problematic area" is a "critical area" or not, an additional
potential improvement of the smart tool would be the automatic external communication
with various structural codes / programs. In that case the communication includes the
automatic generation of 2-D (or even 3-D) models of the pipeline in order to assess
realistically the anticipated soil-pipeline interaction and the pipeline distress (e.g.
strains).
Finally, the tool could be upgraded in order to be utilized during the operation of a
pipeline project in two different ways. The first is to upgrade the tool as a Dynamic
Building Information Model (DBIM). In this way, during the life-time of a pipeline any
change of the initial information / data (i.e. topographical, geotechnical, seismological,
etc.) would be incorporated into the tool (manually or even automatically) and a reevaluation of the critical areas would be performed. The second upgrade could be the
potential connection of the tool with a remote field-monitoring system. The system
should be installed at all critical areas (initially identified and updated) that are remote
with limited accessibility, and it could include the following:

a) Accelerometers for the recording of the triggering mechanism (i.e. the ground motion
at the ground surface).
b) Inclinometers, topographical instrumentation, etc. to measure the PGDs caused by
various geohazards (e.g. slope instabilities, soil liquefaction, fault rupture).
c) Early warning systems connected with strain gauges, fibre optics, etc., to measure
the pipeline strain levels and react as soon as possible.

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