Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



Geotechnical engineering materials are inherently variable, which leads to many simplifications when trying to model their behavior. The materials must always be characterized prior to any design work so that the engineer knows which direction he must progress to have a reliable design. Although subsurface characterization techniques and geotechnical design steadily improve, they are by no means infallible. The combination of geotechnical subsurface characterization along with geophysical techniques for improved design and construction monitoring has begun to surface as a viable alternative to the standard techniques in geotechnical engineering. This is important because there is a lack of Quality Control/Quality Assurance during the construction stage of a project, which further compounds the problems inherent from the complexity of the subsurface. Geophysical techniques based on elastic wave propagation provide an excellent combination of characterization and monitoring for the observation of geotechnical engineering projects. Elastic wave propagation provides coverage between traditional boreholes and it helps infer changes in the state of stresses. Unfortunately, sensors for this type of monitoring have typically been expensive, and the use of elastic wave propagation for characterization and monitoring has just begun to become to be implemented. The application of elastic wave tomography needs an inexpensive set of sensors to help justify its inclusion in the broad area of construction monitoring and characterization systems. This set of inexpensive sensors has arrived on the market developed from Miniature Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMs) technology. This research developed the Analog Devices’ ADXL250 MEMS accelerometer to determine its limitations and its range of applications. In addition, a packaging system developed to allow for a broader range of applications in geotechnical engineering. Once the sensor was fully calibrated, a long-term goal for the research was to utilize the instrument in a laboratory experiment to obtain a tomographic image of the state of stress within a model. While the sensor was utilized in a model in this study, the final reasoning for its use within the model was simply to show its capabilities and areas of application. Simple velocity distributions are given as well as inferences made about the driving factors for these behaviors.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Dante Fratta