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The field of geotechnical monitoring has just within the last decade entered the age of automatic and remote data telemetry. Civil engineers, especially geotechnical engineers, have just recently opened the door to allow communication lines, telephone modems, radio links, and satellites to convey monitoring data automatically from the field to the office. The initial projects involving instrumentation automation and data telemetry were used for either very remote areas or very large projects. However, monitoring data can now be automatically gathered at the site and transmitted to a central location easily, efficiently, and economically, for projects of any size.
This paper details the types of automation and data acquisition used by Geotechnical Engineering and Mining Services (GEMS) to monitor conventional geotechnical instruments; for example, pneumatic and vibrating wire piezometers, thermistors, stream and reservoir level sensors, and others. Instrument data acquisition systems are of paramount importance to monitoring systems because they must accurately monitor the instrument and store the data. Equipment details, including electronics, are addressed.
The paper compares the four types of data transmission: telephone, radio [both ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and very-high-frequency (VHF)], communication line, and satellite. Guidelines for the use of each type of data telemetry are given, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of each method are explained. The focal point of the paper is a table that summarizes the following items for each of the four telemetry methods: (a) best application, for example, the optimum number and types of sensors; (b) transmission range/rate and times per day; (c) accessibility; (d) reliability; and (e) relative cost.
In addition, applications are shown in which multiple types of data transmission methods are applicable. Case histories of recent projects involving geotechnical instrument automation and data acquisition with data telemetry also are given.
remote sensing, remote data transmission, geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES), meteorburst, geotechnical instrumentation
Synergetics, Boulder, CO