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1.1. General

Structural damage identification has drawn increasing academic interest, as witnessed

by the number of relevant journal and conference papers, during the recent years. Impulse
response testing is advanced form of Non Destructive Testing. The Slab Impulse Response
(SIR) system is designed to identify subgrade voids below on-grade concrete slabs that are
less than two feet thick. The SIR method cannot identify the actual depth or thickness of
possible voids, but can determine the lateral extent. The SIR method can also be used on
other concrete structures to quickly locate areas with delaminations or voids in the concrete.
SIR can be performed on reinforced and non-reinforced concrete slabs as well as asphalt or
asphalt-overlay slabs.

1.2. Nondestructive testing (NDT)

NDT is a wide group of analysis techniques used in science and technology industry
to evaluate the properties of a material, component or system without causing damage.
Because NDT does not permanently alter the article being inspected, it is a highly valuable
technique that can save both money and time in product evaluation, troubleshooting, and
research. Common NDT methods include ultrasonic, magnetic-particle, liquid
penetrate, radiographic, remote visual inspection (RVI), eddy-current testing, and low
coherence interferometer. NDT is commonly used in forensic engineering, mechanical
engineering, petroleum engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, systems
engineering, aeronautical engineering, medicine, and art. Innovations in the field of
nondestructive testing have had a profound impact on medical imaging, including
on echocardiography, medical ultra-sonography, and digital radiography. Nondestructive
testing methods are routinely applied in industries where a failure of a component would
cause significant hazard or economic loss, such as in transportation, pressure vessels,
building structures, piping, and hoisting equipment.

1.2.1. Need of Non Destructive Testing

A Doctor testing a patient; a Engineer tests the fitness of the material. Thus, NDT is
necessary because it does not destruct the structure while testing in any form. The need to
ensure safety, NDT can be used to improve output and profitability. A structure can be tested
many times using several types of tests through the complete life cycle to ensure its continued
integrity. Choosing the right method and techniques is an important part of the performance
of NDT.
1.2.2. Advantages of Non-destructive testing method:
i. To avoid the effect of concrete damage on the performance of building structural
ii. Its usage is simple and quick. Test results are available on site.
iii. Concrete testing in structures is demanding in which the cores cannot be drilled,
where the use of less expensive equipments is required.

1.3. Impulse Response Testing Method

The impulse-response test developed in the late 1970s in France is a surface reflection
technique that relies on the identification of P- wave reflections. The test is executed by
impacting with an impulse hammer, which induced transient vibrations (up to 2 kHz). The
impulse response function is a characteristic of a structure and it changes depending on
geometry, support conditions and the existence of defects.

The Slab Impulse Response (SIR) system is designed to identify subgrade voids
below slabs-on-grade less than two feet thick. In addition, the Slab IR test method can be
used on other concrete structures to quickly locate areas with delaminations or voids in the
concrete, if the damage is relatively shallow. Slab IR can be performed on reinforced and
non-reinforced concrete slabs as well as asphalt or asphalt-overlay slabs.

Picture 1: Slab Impulse Response Testing Apparatus

Typical applications of impulse response test are for assessing the condition of large
concrete structure members such as floor slabs, pavements, bridge decks and walls. The
impulse response test provide a rapid approach in finding defect areas, such as poor concrete
consolidation, poor ground slab support and voiding, delamination caused by steel corrosion.
Robustness, fast output and good repeatability of test results are the main advantages of this
test method. However, presently there are not many literatures on this method for
applications on concrete members.

Picture 2: Slab Impulse Response System

1.3.1. Working Principle:

The operating principle is based on a low strain impact produced by a hammer with a
rubber tip . Stress waves sent through the tested elements. The impact causes vibrations in the
element and stimulates primarily flexural form. A velocity receiver set near to the point of
impact, takes the response. The load cell and the velocity receiver are connected to a laptop
computer analyze the results.

The function of the force in time, that is produced by the hammer and the measured
velocity response is transformed in the frequency domain using the Fast Fourier
Transformation (FFT). The range of velocity response divided by the range of force and the
"mobility" is shown as a function of frequency. The resulting impulse response spectrum has
units of velocity/force, which is referred to as mobility. The mobility plot provides

information on the dynamic stiffness of the structure. The mobility is given in units of speed
per power (m / s) / N.

Figure 3: Mobility vs. Frequency

The parameters of the mobility diagram used for assessing integrity are:

i. The dynamic stiffness (The inverse of initial slope of the mobility plot shown with
blue line in Figure 1)
ii. The average mobility (lined bar)
iii. The mobility slope between 100 and 800 Hz
iv. The voids index (the ratio of amplitude of initial mobility peak to average mobility).

Parameters used in the Slab IR data interpretation include: [from ASTM Standard of Practice
for Impulse Response ASTM C1740-10]

i. Average Mobility. The average mobility between 100 500 Hz is related directly to
density, elastic modulus, and thickness of the plate element. A reduction in the plate
thickness results in an increase in mean mobility. Cracking or honeycombing in the
concrete will reduce rigidity thus an increase in mean mobility.
ii. Mobility Slope. The mobility of honeycomb concrete shows increasing mobility with
increasing frequency over the frequency range of 100 800 Hz whereas solid
concrete shows a relatively constant mobility over the same frequency range.

iii. Peak to Mean Mobility Ratio. This value is called ratio for short in this program.
This ratio is the indication of subgrade voids. When this value exceeds 2.5, loss of
support beneath slab on grade is indicated.
1.3.2. Applications of Slab Impulse Response Testing:
i. The Slab IR testing method is often used in conjunction with GPR for subgrade void
detection and mapping.
ii. Relatively low mobility (velocity/force) and flexibility (displacement/force)
qualitatively indicates that such an area appears to be more solidly supported than an
area with relatively high mobility and flexibility.
iii. It is simple, fast, easy to deploy, reliable and requires no data-processing.
iv. Detecting voids beneath concrete slabs in highways, spillways and floors.
v. Locating delaminations and honeycombing in bridge decks, slabs, walls and large
structures such as dams, chimney stacks and silos.
vi. Detecting the presence of damage due to freezing and thawing.
vii. Detecting the presence of alkali silica reaction(ASR).
viii. Detecting debonding of asphalt and concrete overlays, and repair patches from
concrete substrates.


2.1 General

A significant amount of research work on Non-destructive testing techniques, Impulse

response method for slabs, piles and bridge deck slabs has been published by many
investigators. Some of them are briefed below.

2.2 Review of technical papers :

Daniel clem & Thomas Schumacher [1], presented their studied case for steel- concrete
composite deck girder bridge in new jersey. IR performed on a 2 x 2 grid on five of six deck
slabs. ASTM C1740-10 parameters like average mobility, dynamic stiffness, mobility slope
& peak- mean mobility ratio are extracted out from detailed study. New approach of
transforming nobility spectrum back into time domain is introduced. New parameters like
maximum mobility amplitude and exponential rate of decay are also added.

Rachel Cohen [3], quoted that steel anchor rods for auxiliary highway structures are
susceptible to fatigue cracking due to wind-induced vibration, which can cause anchor rod
failure and subsequent structure collapse. The impulse response method is a nondestructive
evaluation technique that has the potential to be implemented in an efficient crack detection
inspection procedure. In impulse response testing, an impact is applied to a structure, and
sensors on the structures surface monitor the resulting stress wave propagation.
Experimental testing was performed on isolated steel anchor rods, as well as a large-scale
structure-foundation anchorage assembly. In addition, finite element models were created to
simulate stress wave testing. Experimental data was used to validate simulation results, and
develop a modeling approach that can be used to expand the experimental test matrix.
Preliminary simulations were performed on cracked rods to provide initial insight into the
effect of damage on impulse-response mobility spectra.

Jaroslaw Rybak, Lukasz Sadowski and Krzysztof Schabowicz [4], had carried out
measurements by means of Impulse Response Smash method that can be easily applied in
non-destructive evaluation of quality and diagnostics of concrete piles. The investigations
showed that this method provides a quick and direct manner of evaluating not only the length
of a pile, the cross-section area, the change in area (narrowing or broadening) at the height
but also the depth of a void. These measurements are especially important when piles are
made with modern technologies of displacement piles (CFA piles, Omega piles) The driven

piles should be also tested because there is always the risk of damage of those piles on the
construction site.

Moczko Andrzej & Moczko Marta [5], Stated an overview of modern Non-Destructive
Testing methods that can be applied for concrete integrity evaluation, with particular
attention paid to bridges. Assessment of in-situ quality of concrete and its integrity is
primarily concerned with the current adequacy of the existing structures and their future
performance. Routine maintenance needs of concrete structures are now well established and
increasingly utilize in-situ NDT-testing to assist lifetime predictions. Such approach allows
evaluating the basic concrete composite properties and makes possible to answer several
questions, which seem to be crucial for engineering practice. Among other things, Impact-
Echo and Impulse Response seem to be one of more promising diagnostic techniques for
structural integrity testing of concrete structures. The general principles of these advanced
testing methods are discussed. Among other things, it has been shown that Impulse-Response
can be used for fast screening of large areas of concrete structures with the purpose to control
their structural integrity and to determine local areas with possible flaws for subsequent
detailed analysis, e.g. by the impact-echo, ultrasound shear waves or by invasive inspection
with drilled cores. Main evaluation parameters have been discussed and general
recommendations for proper interpretation of obtained results were proposed. Practical
applications of these methods have been discussed as well.

Soheil Nazarian and Srinivasa Reddy[6], Even though the impulse response method is
widely used in detecting defects under rigid pavements. The sensitivity of the method is not
well understood. Modal time-history analyses were used to numerically simulate the impulse
response method. Parameters such as length, width, thickness and the elastic modulus of the
slab, the modulus of subgrade of the soil and location of the impact and size and location of
defects were studied. The sensitivity of flexibility spectrum, the major function measured in
the field to detect defects, to each of these parameters was studied. It was found that the
elastic modulus and dimensions of the slab have small effects. while the thickness of the slab
and the modulus of subgrade more significantly affect the flexibility spectrum. For most
practical applications, comer voids that are twice the thickness of the slab should be
detectable. For edge and mid slab, the defect has to be four and five times the slab thickness
(respectively) to be detectable.

Sarah L. Gassman and Richard J. Finno [8], Quoted that the impulse response test is a
nondestructive evaluation technique commonly used for quality control of driven concrete
piles and drilled shafts where the pile heads are accessible. When evaluating existing
foundations, the presence of a pile cap or other structure makes the pile heads inaccessible
and introduces uncertainties in the interpretation of impulse response results. A test section
was constructed at the National Geotechnical Experimentation Site (NGES) at Northwestern
University to examine the applicability of nondestructive testing methods in evaluating deep
foundations under inaccessible-head conditions. This paper focuses on the results of impulse
response tests conducted atop the three pile caps at the NGES. Based on field
experimentation and numerical simulations, a frequency was determined below which the
impulse response test could be used for inaccessible-head conditions. This cutoff frequency
primarily depends upon the geometry of the pile cap and pile. A case study is presented that
describes impulse response tests obtained on a number of drilled shafts both after the shaft
was constructed and after grade beams and walls were built. The results of these tests also
follow the trends observed in the NGES tests related to cutoff frequency.

Jesper S. Clausen, Zoidis Nikolaos & Asger Knudsen [9], The use of NDT (Non
Destructive Testing) can provide valuable information of the condition of a concrete structure
and can be a valuable help when planning the maintenance of a structure. NDT can further be
used during the construction phase for quality assurance of a structure. Hidden faults can be
detected early and can be remedied while access to the structure is still possible without
major inconvenience. Special inspections combining a visual survey with NDT techniques
can disclose problems at an early state and provides valuable information of the actual
condition of the structure. The use of NDT should not be used to evaluate a structure without
a thorough calibration of the equipment onsite e.g. by drilling out a limited number of cores.

2.3 Concluding Remark

The literature review presents the experimental study of impulse response testing on
slabs, pavements, spillways, piles and bridge deck slabs and validating their results with
using various softwares. A sufficient study on NDT and Impulse response testing is available.

Slab failure if predetermined can save loss of lives, proper repair and rehabilitation
practices can be done, helps in structural health monitoring, can enhance the life of structure
and structural auditing.

i. To understand the process of carrying out the test on slab by impulse response
ii. To identifying the nature and type of failures in RCC Slabs by impulse response
iii. To obtain mobility and coherence plots for samples tested experimentally.
iv. Collecting Slab IR data at multiple, densely spaced locations can improve the
conclusions by mapping relative areas of higher and lower mobility.
v. Localizing damage (flaws, delaminations and honeycombing) in the specimens.
vi. Validating the results with the help of ABAQUS software.
vii. Implement the impulse response testing by considering actual case of RCC bridge

i. Various steps to be followed to achieve the objectives are given below,

ii. Considering prototype of slab for carrying out IR Testing.
iii. 4 numbers of test specimens are to be casted with inserting desired flaws
(holes for ducts, voids,steel plates, etc) at predefined locations.
iv. Generation of mobility plots and converting into frequency domain for
understanding the zones of high and low mobility to locate damage.
v. Calculating parameters used in the Slab IR data interpretation from the
expected results obtained as per ASTM Standard of Practice for Impulse
Response ASTM C1740-10.
vi. Modeling 4 slab specimens by using XFEM tool in ABAQUS Software for
validating the results obtained experimentally.
vii. Implementation of IR Testing to actual site as a case study.

i. Localizing and calculating depth of damage.
ii. Exponential rate of decay to be identified from mobility vs. time graph.
iii. Validation of results obtained experimentally with software.
iv. Feasibility of IR testing for actual bridge site.

i. By keeping the same procedure but changing the post processing i.e. Transforming
mobility spectrum back to time domain, maximum mobility amplitude can be found
ii. Factors affecting IR Testing and their effect on efficiency of results.
iii. Combining Impulse Response Method with other NDT methods for testing RCC
bridge decks.


1. Daniel clem & Thomas Schumacher, A Fresh Look at Impulse Response as a

From of NDT for Concrete Bridge Decks, ACI Spring 2012 Convention, March 18-22,
Dallas, Texas.
2. Tae Keun Oh, Defect Characterization in concrete elements using Vibration
Analysis and Imaging dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Civil
Engineering in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2012
3. Rachel Cohen, Numerical simulation of impulse response testing for Detection
Of Fatigue Cracking In Steel Anchor Rods, Home Institution: Brown University, 2014
4. Jaroslaw Rybak, Lukasz Sadowski, Krzysztof Schabowicz, Non-Destructive
Impuls Response Smash Method for Concrete Pile Testing, esk spolenost pro
nedestruktivn zkouen material 38. mezinrodn konference DEFEKTOSKOPIE 2008,
Brno, 4. 6. 11. 2008
5. Moczko Andrzej & Moczko Marta, Modern NDT Systems for Structural
Integrity Examination of Concrete Bridge Structures, XXIII R-S-P seminar, Theoretical
Foundation of Civil Engineering (23RSP) TFoCE 2014.
6. Soheil Nazarian & Srinivasa Reddy, Study of parameters affecting Impulse
Response Method, Journal Of Transportation Engineering, 308-315, July-August 1996.
7. P.K. Mehta and P.J.M. Monteiro, Concrete: Microstructure, Properties, and
8. Sarah L. Gassman and Richard J. Finno, Cutoff Frequencies For Impulse
Response Tests Of Existing Foundations, Journal Of Performance Of Constructed
Facilities, 11-21, February 2000.
9. Jesper S. Clausen, Zoidis Nikolaos & Asger Knudsen, Onsite measurements of
concrete structures using Impact-echo and Impulse Response.
10. Larry D. Olson, Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) of Bridges, Foundations and
Pavements QA, Forensic and Rehabilitation Condition Assessment,

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