Tree root detection from ground surface vibration measurements

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Rapid development of urban infrastructure in past decades together with a relatively recent growth of awareness of its impact on the natural environment result in an increased interest in non-destructive ground interrogation methods. Tree root damage is a very well known issue in civil engineering and can emerge as road surface fracture, building foundations disintegration or pipe penetration, among others. In this paper we investigate the feasibility of using a vibroacoustic method for tree root mapping. The core of the idea is that the mechanical waves induced by an excitation mechanism acting on the tree trunk propagate to the roots and then radiate into the surrounding soil. Owing to that, the response measured at the ground surface contains the contribution of waves radiating from roots and can be used for mapping their extent. In this paper, we report a set of field experiments on a 'purpose-built' root-trunk model buried underground. These preliminary results both demonstrate the technique and shed light on related challenges and limitations.




Kalkowski, M. K., Muggleton, J. M., & Rustighi, E. (2018). Tree root detection from ground surface vibration measurements. In MATEC Web of Conferences (Vol. 148). EDP Sciences.

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