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Vibration Monitoring For Construction Projects

Vibration Monitoring Construction

By James Whitt, PG

CTL now offers vibration monitoring services for construction projects.

Vibration monitoring services are often used to measure the level of vibrations in the ground as a result of construction activities. This is particularly true when a construction site is close to another building, requires extraordinarily heavy construction work, or requires work deep underground. Vibration monitoring services can help prevent accidental damage to nearby buildings, utilities, etc. and protect contractors and owners from liability.

How does A vibration monitoring System work?

At the beginning of a project, CTL Engineering will install seismographs and associated equipment to measure vibrations on the site.

Each monitoring station consists of a large metal enclosure, secured to an immovable object, with a solar panel attached. The CTL team will bury a sensor (triaxial geophone) in the ground next to the enclosed seismograph. In addition to the seismograph, the enclosure contains a solar converter, backup battery, and modem.

Vibration monitoring stations can stay on-site for the duration of the project. The stations are also portable, and CTL can move them as the construction areas move. This is particularly useful when construction covers a large area, such as a new sewer line.

When vibrations outside the normal range are detected (and at the end of each monitoring period), the equipment automatically notifies CTL engineers and the contractor.

This is useful for two reasons:

  1. Construction crews may determine that a particular activity is causing too much vibration. Often, they can find a way to accomplish the same goal with less vibration.
  2. It creates a record of vibration levels generated at the site. Assuming the contractor can keep vibration to a minimum, this record can help protect the contractor from liability if owners of nearby buildings suggest their structures have been damaged by construction activities.

Before the use of vibration monitoring systems, it was less clear whether construction activities were likely the cause of damage to surrounding buildings during soil compaction, dewatering, and other activities. Vibration monitoring services might be critical in certain instances: such as when contractors work next to historic buildings, large buildings, or deep underground.

CTL is currently providing vibration monitoring services while a contractor installs a 78″ storm sewer pipe in Indianapolis. The pipe is deep beneath the surface, and vibration monitoring helps the contractor ensure that the team does not cause inadvertent damage to the surrounding area while installing the pipe.

Vibration Monitoring for Construction Projects. CTL Engineers monitor vibration on a sewer line installation.


Although vibration monitoring is not necessary for every construction project, it can be a very cost-effective solution for contractors to reduce their liability when they are working near a building or have the potential to cause expensive damage.

To learn more about vibration monitoring, contact CTL Engineering.

James Whitt, PG, Project Geologist (Geophysicist)

James is a Licensed Geologist and part of the Geotechnical Group at CTL Engineering.  He has 15 years of experience working on environmental and geotechnical engineering projects.  He specializes in the application of a wide range of geophysical techniques, non-destructive testing, and vibration monitoring.

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