Decoupling pipeline influences in soil resistivity measurements with finite element techniques

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Periodic inspection of pipeline conditions is an important asset management strategy conducted by water and sewer utilities for efficient and economical operations of their assets in field. The Level 1 pipeline condition assessment involving resistivity profiling along the pipeline right-of-way is a common technique for delineating pipe sections that might be installed in highly corrosive soil environment. However, the technique can suffer from significant perturbations arising from the buried pipe itself, resulting in errors in native soil characterisation. To address this problem, a finite element model was developed to investigate the degree to which pipes of different a) diameters, b) burial depths, and c) surface conditions (bare or coated) can influence in-situ soil resistivity measurements using Wenner methods. It was found that the greatest errors can arise when conducting measurements over a bare pipe with the array aligned parallel to the pipe. Depending upon the pipe surface conditions, in-situ resistivity measurements can either be underestimated or overestimated from true soil resistivities. Following results based on simulations and decoupling equations, a guiding framework for removing pipe influences in soil resistivity measurements were developed that can be easily used to perform corrections on measurements. The equations require simple a-prior information on the pipe diameter, burial depth, surface condition, and the array length and orientation used. Findings from this study have immediate application and is envisaged to be useful for critical civil infrastructure monitoring and assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-313
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Corrosion
  • Finite element
  • Pipeline
  • Resistivity
  • Wenner

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