Structural-change detection and characterization, or structural-health monitoring, is generally based on modal analysis, for detection, localization, and quantification of changes in structure. Classical methods combine both variations in frequencies and mode shapes, which require accurate and spatially distributed measurements. In this study, the detection and localization of a local perturbation are assessed by analysis of frequency changes (in the fundamental mode and overtones) that are combined with a perturbation-based linear inverse method and a deconvolution process. This perturbation method is applied first to a bending beam with the change considered as a local perturbation of the Young's modulus, using a one-dimensional finite-element model for modal analysis. Localization is successful, even for extended and multiple changes. In a second step, the method is numerically tested under ambient-noise vibration from the beam support with local changes that are shifted step by step along the beam. The frequency values are revealed using the random decrement technique that is applied to the time-evolving vibrations recorded by one sensor at the free extremity of the beam. Finally, the inversion method is experimentally demonstrated at the laboratory scale with data recorded at the free end of a Plexiglas beam attached to a metallic support.
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