We investigate the use of multiepoch airborne and terrestrial lidar to detect and measure ground displacements of sufficient magnitude to damage buried pipelines and other water system facilities that might result, for example, from earthquake or rainfall-induced landslides. Lidar scans are performed at three sites with coincident measurements by total station surveying. Relative horizontal accuracy is evaluated by measurements of lateral dimensions of well defined objects such as buildings and tanks; we find misfits ranging from approximately 5 to 12 cm, which is consistent with previous work. The bias and dispersion of lidar elevation measurements, relative to total station surveying, is assessed at two sites: (1) a power plant site (PP2) with vegetated steeply sloping terrain; and (2) a relatively flat and unvegetated site before and after trenching operations were performed. At PP2, airborne lidar showed minimal elevation bias and a standard deviation of approximately 70 cm, whereas terrestrial lidar did not produce useful results due to beam divergence issues and inadequate sampling of the study region. At the trench site, airborne lidar showed minimal elevation bias and reduced standard deviation relative to PP2 (6-20 cm), whereas terrestrial lidar was nearly unbiased with very low dispersion (4-6 cm). Pre- and posttrench bias-adjusted normalized residuals showed minimal to negligible correlation, but elevation change was affected by relative bias between epochs. The mean of elevation change bias essentially matches the difference in means of pre- and posttrench elevation bias, whereas elevation change standard deviation is sensitive to the dispersion of individual epoch elevations and their correlation coefficient. The observed lidar bias and standard deviations enable reliable detection of damaging ground displacements for some pipelines types (e.g., welded steel) but not all (e.g., concrete with unwelded, mortared joints). ?? ASCE 2009.
Additional publication details
Use of airborne and terrestrial lidar to detect ground displacement hazards to water systems