Volume 36, Issue 2 (March 2013)
Influence of Lightweight Deflectometer Characteristics on Deflection Measurement
The lightweight deflectometer (LWD) is currently not standardized; as a result, there are a number of commercially available LWD designs that yield different deflection and elastic modulus values. This proves problematic because transportation agencies are beginning to prescribe target deflections and/or elastic modulus values during earthwork construction. This paper presents the results of a comprehensive investigation into the influence of LWD design characteristics on measured deflection. The influence of the sensor type (accelerometer versus geophone), sensing configuration (measurement of plate versus ground surface), LWD rigidity, and applied load pulse were investigated through field testing and finite element analysis. The investigation revealed that the sensing configuration (i.e., the measurement of plate versus ground surface response) is the predominant cause of differences between the Zorn and Prima LWD responses (deflection normalized by peak force). Vertical plate deflection exceeded ground surface deflection by 65 % to 310 % on soils and by 20 % on asphalt. The relative influences of the sensor type (accelerometer versus geophone), plate rigidity, and load pulse each led to relatively small differences (<10 %) between Zorn and Prima LWD responses. The results of this investigation illustrate that each of the two LWD configurations will always produce different deflection and elastic modulus values for the same ground conditions, and that the differences will be difficult to predict.