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3, AUGUST 1980 157

Protection of Buried Cable From Direct Lightning Strike


Abstract-This paper presents studies of protection schemes for where p is the soil resistivity in ohm-meters. If the breakdown
buried cables. A formula is introduced that gives the maximum peak voltage gradient of the soil is eo, soil breakdown occurs until
lightning current for various ground resistivities. Maximum and e(r) = eo, or for a distance
minimum arcing distances beneath the surface are calculated using
the internal breakdown gradient of the soil. The susceptible region for
a buried cable is shown to be related to the maximum arcing distance,
while the number of buried shield wires required for adequate
ro=(2JP ) 1/2 (2)
protection is determined by the minimum arcing distance. The
effectiveness of the proposed protective schemes is demonstrated by Substantial differences have been measured between the
electrogeometrical theory. Finally, the qualifications of the new
schemes are discussed. internal and surface breakdown gradients of the soil [ I 1]. The
Key Words-Lightning, buried cable, protection. radius of ionization of soil within the ground is determined by
using the internal breakdown gradient in (2). Some typical
I. INTRODUCTION values of internal breakdown gradient of soils ranging from 1.2
W HEN a buried cable is struck by lightning, puncture of to 2.3 MV/m are given in Table I [I I].
Tits outer jacket is almost inevitable [1], [2]. Burn- The maximum current that may be used in (2) is limited by
through of the metal shield is also possible [2]-[4] if the the specific resistance of the upper layers of the ground in a
lightning current is of long duration. After the outer jacket given location, according to Mikhailov and Sokolov [ 12].
is punctured, lightning current flowing on the metal shield They have established a formula for the maximum current as a
could produce high voltage between the shield and the core, function of resistivity:
causing a complete breakdown in the inner jacket [51, [6].
The first step in protecting buried cables from the effects of
)x 103 A.
lightning, therefore, is to protect them from direct strikes,
and is the subject of this paper.
m 16+
~p22 (3)
Various schemes for protection have been suggested in This equation compares well with measurement data [12] in
the past, but they have failed to give the desired level of the resistivity range of 150 < p < 1100 flrm. However, data
protection [81, [9] for reasons that are discussed later in the are insufficient to determine the validity of this equation for
report. In the last decade, few new technologies have been other soil-resistivity ranges.
introduced for the protection of buried cables [9], [10], due Table II lists resistivity values for a wide range of soil types
in part to the fact that cost tradeoffs between protection and [13]. Values range from 100 to 1000 Ql-m for various types of
penalty with the earlier technology have been reached for terrain. The maximum current from (3) for p = 100 Q-m is
communications systems. However, buried cables con- 216 000 A, an amplitude exceeded in less than one percentile
nected to important networks, such as military installations, of lightning strikes. For the purpose of this study, (3) is
weapon storage areas, or nuclear-related facilities, require a considered applicable to soil resistivity down to 100 f-m. The
high degree of protection from lightning. maximum ionization radius as a function of resistivity is
This paper first examines the lightning-strike mechanism obtained by substituting (3) into (2):
beneath the surface of the earth. It then presents studies of
the protective zone under buried shield wires. Finally, 1031/2 26 +
(16P 2 x
various protective schemes for buried cables are proposed
and the reasons they provide a high degree of protection to
\ (4)
the cables are explained. Here rom is the maximum value of ro.
II. ARCING DISTANCES An upper bound for (4) is obtained when the soil breakdown
When lightning current J strikes the earth, the electric gradient is the minimum expected, or about 106 V/m according
field in the ground at distance r from the stroke point is to Table I. This upper bound (plotted in Fig. 1) shows that the
given by' maximum radius rm of ionization inside the soil is 1.85 m.
Jp Because of the applicable range of (3), discussions in this
) 2xr2
2,tr ~~~~~~~~~~~~(1)
report are limited to soil with resistivity between 100 and 1100
Manuscript received December 3, 1979; revised March 10, 1980.
The radius ro is not necessarily the same as the distance
This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. across which a lightning strike would arc to a nearby cable.
The author is with the Advanced Electrical Systems Division, Sandia According to Sunde [8], [9], streamers will extend in various
Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185. 505-264-5317. directions beyond ro. If the electric field is assumed to have a
1 All units used in equations are in the International (SI) System of
units. radial symmetry about the lightning channel, the streamer

0018-9375/80/0800-0157$00.75 1980 IEEE


TABLE I has zero potential. In this case, the arcing distance to a buried
cable is

Gravel, moist 1.2 - 1.9

r I -r 0 1+ eo
Gravel, dry 2.1 - 2.3
Sand, moist 1.3 - 2.3
The arcing distance calculated in this manner is the maximum;
the arcing distance calculated from (5) is the minimum.
Sand, dry 1.7 - 1.9
Measurements of the effective corona radius of a conductor
Mixture (75% clay and 25% fine in air showed that breakdown occurs at eo = 1.4 MV/m. On
sand), moist 2.1
the other hand, arcing occurs between two conductors a
considerable distance apart when the average gradient is I -

MV/m. Thus the ratio eoIe, is about 1.4. Based on this result,
SOIL RESISTIVITIES [131 Sunde [8], [9] suggested that an adequate value for the ratio of
eole in the soil is 2 because the ionization must be more
Resistivity complete to provide substantially better conductivity than does
Terrain p(SI-m)
the soil. The arcing distance is, therefore, greater than 2 ro but
Dry sand coastal land 500
less than 3 ro. Similar observations [14] were reported by
Marshy forested flat land 125 Hayaski using X-ray films placed underneath the ground
Rich agricultural land 100 electrode in the soil.
Pastoral land, medium hills 200 Since the maximum value of rO is 1.85 m (rm), the maximum
Rocky land, steep hills 500
arcing distance to a buried cable is 5.5 m (3 rm). Thus a cable
buried more than 5.5 m below the surface would have minimal
Mountain regions 1000
susceptibility to a direct strike. This situation may not hold if
the soil resistivity along the streamer path varies beyond the
limit of 100 to 1100 fl-m considered here.
-1 ~~~~~~~~ I I


In the last section, the maximum arcing distance was
2.0 computed as 5.5 m. A circle of 5.5-m radius from the location
of the cable may intersect the surface of the earth, as shown in
r Fig. 2. The intersected area ab is the region susceptible to
lightning for this cable. To protect the cable, shield wires must
1.7 be installed to intercept the lightning current struck inside this
1.6 region.
C- 1.2 Given a radius of ionization rm, minimum arcing distance is
2 rm (3.7 m) according to the discussions in the last section.
Accordingly, shield wires should be located within 3.7 m from
1.3 any points in the susceptible region to ensure interception of
1.2 lightning current. In addition, spacing between the cable and
1. 1 the shield wires must be sufficient to prevent sparkover.
1.0 These are the basic ideas for the proposed protective
0 100 200 400 600 800 1000 1100 schemes. The effectiveness of such schemes is demonstrated
P (JL-m ) by the electrogeometrical technique [ 15], [16] shown
Fig. 1. Maximum radius of ionization inside the soil. graphically in Figs. 3 and 4. Let point 1 be the location of the
protective structure and point 2 the structure to be protected.
radius is given by Arcs of circles of radius equal to the striking distance (SD)
intersect at point 3. Lightning in region A will, therefore, not
strike either structures I or 2. A stroke in region B is outside
r (eO)O (5) the striking distance of structure 2 but within the striking
distance of structure 1. For this reason, lightning will be
where el is the average voltage gradient required for arcing diverted to structure 1. Likewise, lightning in region C will be
between the outer boundary of the ionization region and an diverted to structure 2. The probable attraction of strikes is to
object located at r1. If a buried cable is present, the symmetry structure 1 in region D and 2 in region E. Lightning discharge
is disturbed. The potential of the cable at the point nearest the in region F can be attracted to either structure.
lightning strike may be less than 20 percent of the earth If lightning strikes the surface where structure I is located
potential at the same point in the absence of a cable. To (as in the example shown in Fig. 3), the discharged region on
estimate the largest arcing distance, it is assumed that the cable the right side of structure I is F, E, or C. Based on the
a' a
t // / / / ,,/ / / / / 7N I I, I -7'7

5. 5m\
Fig. 5. Configuration of single-shield wire.
Fig. 2. Lightning-susceptible region ab.

A,' I \
/, \
,,,,11-, I , I....-- I I I I., I - I I . I I I

F> // E A

2< SD
Fig. 6. Electrogeometrical analysis for single-shield-wire configuration.
/ /
;/ v9
> '~'I"I[
F"3.7m -2
Fig. 3. Illustration of ineffective shielding on the right side of the If 3m
protective structure. A' 3.7m
I or- 5.5m I
Fig. 7. Electrogeometrical analysis for dual-shield-wire configuration.

(3 rm) as the SD to the buried cable moves the intersections of

the circles to points 5 and 6. All these points are below the
surface of the earth, and the shielding is, therefore, effective
according to the electrogeometrical theory. In most situations,
the radius of ionization ro is smaller than its maximum value
Fig. 4. Illustration of effective shielding on the right side of the rm. Using 2 ro as SD to the wire and 3 ro as SD to the cable,
protective structure. points 7 and 8 intersect even below points 5 and 6. A
protective scheme is, therefore, effective if the intersections of
discussions in the last paragraph, the lightning is diverted to circles using 3.7 m (2 rm) as SD to wire and 5.5 m (3 rm) as SD
structure 2, rendering the shielding ineffective. On the other to cable are below the surface of the earth.
hand, the shielding is effective if lightning discharges at Fig. 7 shows another example of a cable buried at 3 m below
regions D, B, or A as demonstrated in the example shown in the surface. Let the distance between 0 and C be 3 ro. The
Fig. 4. In this case, intersecting point 3 is below the surface, shield wires should then be located within 2 ro from point 0.
while that in Fig. 3 is above the surface. For an effective On the other hand, the shield wires should also be within 3.7 m
shielding, therefore, the intersecting point of the circles of from the outermost points a and b of the susceptible region.
radius equal to the SD must be below the surface. Shield wires located inside the shaded areas shown in Fig. 7
We now consider a practical example. A cable is buried satisfy this condition. In this case, two shield wires are
4.5 m below the surface with the susceptible region ab at required that may be located I m below the surface for the
-6.5 m, as shown in Fig. 5. The shaded area in this figure is purpose of illustration as shown in this figure. Circles using
the intersection of circles having radii of 3.7 m and center 3.7 m as SD to wires and 5.5 m as SD to cable intersect at
points at a and b, the outermost points of the susceptible points I and 2, which are below the surface of the earth. Once
region. A single shield wire located inside the shaded area is again shielding is effective.
sufficient to protect the cable since every point in the The same technique can be applied to determine the number
susceptible region is within 3.7 m from this wire. of shield wires for other depths of cable burial.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of such a protective
system, the shield wire is located 1 m below the surface, as IV. DISCUSSION
shown in Fig. 6. In this figure, points I and 2 are the Since the purpose of shield wires is to intercept all lightning
intersection of circles with SD 3.7 m, while points 3 and = current, the shield wire should withstand a severe lightning
4 are those with SD = 5.5 m. A conservative approach of current [17], [18] by itself. For this reason, wires comparable
using 3.7 m (2 rm) as the SD to the shield wire and 5.5 m to AWG no. 6 [19] or larger are preferred.

Once the shield wires are selected and their locations this report. However, one may refer to Sunde's book [91 for
determined, calculations should be made to ensure that computations if this subject does become a concern.
spacings between the cables and shield wires are wide enough REFERENCES
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