The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Road and soil acoustic characterisation from surface measurements

Currently Active: 

How to measure the speed of sound in soil?

Project Overview

The utility services infrastructure - the pipes and cables that deliver utility services to our homes and which supports urban living - is usually buried beneath our urban streets. Street-works to install, replace, repair or maintain these utility service pipes or cables using traditional trench excavations will disrupt traffic and people movement, and will often significantly damage the surface transport infrastructure and the ground on which it bears. It is clear that the physical condition of the pipes and cables, of the ground and of the overlying road structure, is consequently of crucial importance in determining the nature and severity of the impacts that street works cause.

Field experiments

There are currently a number of vibro-acoustic techniques being developed within the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) for assessing the conditions of buried utilities. However, all require the acoustic characteristics of the soil, such as wavespeed and attenuation, both at the surface and down to the depth at which the utilities are buried, to be known in advance. Methods for measuring these in situ are not well developed at present.

The aim of this project is to develop methods both for predicting and for measuring relevant road/soil properties in order to assess their conditions. The project is both theoretical and experimental.

Related research groups

Dynamics Group


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