This report presents a wave method to be used for the structural identification and damage detection of structural components in bridges, e.g., bridge piers. This method has proven to be promising when applied to real structures and large amplitude responses in buildings (e.g., mid-rise and high-rise buildings). This study is the first application of the method to damaged bridge structures. The bridge identification was performed using wave propagation in a simple uniform shear beam model. The method identifies a wave velocity for the structure by fitting an equivalent uniform shear beam model to the impulse response functions of the recorded earthquake response. The structural damage is detected by measuring changes in the identified velocities from one damaging event to another. The method uses the acceleration response recorded in the structure to detect damage. In this study, the acceleration response from a shake-table four-span bridge tested to failure was used.

Pairs of sensors were identified to represent a specific wave passage in the bridge. Wave velocities were identified for several sensor pairs and various shaking intensities are reported; further, actual observed damage in the bridge was compared with the detected reductions in the identified velocities. The results show that the identified shear wave velocities presented a decreasing trend as the shaking intensity was increased, and the average percentage reduction in the velocities was consistent with the overall observed damage in the bridge. However, there was no clear correlation between a specific wave passage and the observed reduction in the velocities. This indicates that the uniform shear beam model was too simple to localize the damage in the bridge. Instead, it provides a proxy for the overall extent of change in the response due to damage.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Engineering

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Structural Health Monitoring, Bridge, Accelerometer, Damage, Waves


Industrial Engineering | Structural Materials | Transportation Engineering