Elastic wave modes for the assessment of structural timber: ultrasonic echo for building elements and guided waves for pole and pile structures

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring, 2015, 5 (2), pp. 221 - 249
Issue Date:
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© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. This paper presents the state-of-the-art of using non-destructive testing (NDT) methods based on elastic waves for the condition assessment of structural timber. Two very promising approaches based on the propagation and reflections of elastic waves are described. While the first approach uses ultrasonic echoes for the testing of wooden building elements, the second approach uses guided waves (GW) for the testing of timber pole and pile structures. The basic principle behind both approaches is that elastic waves induced in a timber structure will propagate through its material until they encounter a change in stiffness, cross-sectional area or density, at which point they will reflect back. By measuring the wave echoes, it is possible to determine geometric properties of the tested structures such as the back wall of timber elements or the underground length of timber poles or piles. In addition, the internal state of the tested structures can be assessed since damage and defects such as rot, fungi or termite attacks will cause early reflections of the elastic waves as well as it can result in changes in wave velocity, wave attenuation and wave mode conversion. In the paper, the principles and theory of using elastic wave propagation for the assessment of wooden building elements and timber pole/pile structures are described. The state-of-the-art in testing equipment and procedures is presented and detailed examples are given on the practical application of both testing approaches. Recent encouraging developments of cutting edge research are presented along with challenges for future research.
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