Geotechnical engineers at Loughborough University in England are working on a new way to prevent catastrophic soil collapses on construction sites as well as landslides that occur naturally but without warning. The sound sensor system measure's the soil's acoustical behavior to predict when a landslide or trench collapse is imminent so that preventative steps can be taken before people are hurt.
The new system works "just the same way as bending a stick creates cracking noises that build up until it snaps. So the movement of soil before a landslide creates increasing rates of noise," says principal project investigator Neil Dixon.
"This has been known since the 1960s, but what we have been able to do that is new is capture and process this information so as to quantify the link between noise and soil displacement rates as it happens, in real time - and hence provide an early warning."
The system has the potential to prevent untold numbers of construction accidents, worker injuries and fatalities from naturally occurring landslides worldwide.
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