Bender element field sensor for the measurement of pavement base and subbase stiffness characteristics

Mingu Kang, Issam I.A. Qamhia, Erol Tutumluer, Won Taek Hong, Jeb S. Tingle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Layer modulus values are important input parameters in mechanistic pavement design and evaluation methods. Direct measurement of the stiffness characteristics of pavement base/subbase has been a challenging task. Nondestructive testing methods that are commonly used based on surface deflection measurements not only require a backcalculation process, but also have limitations on measuring local stiffness within the layer. This paper presents the result of a recent research effort at the University of Illinois aimed to develop a new sensor for the direct measurement of the in-situ moduli of constructed unbound pavement layers. The new sensor employs bender element (BE) shear wave transducers embedded in a granular base/subbase to evaluate the layer modulus from shear wave velocity measured at any depth and any orientation. To provide appropriate protection for the BE sensor and its cable connections, a stainless-steel cable guide, a sensor protection module, and a protection cover for the sensor were designed and optimized. A laboratory calibration box containing sand-sized crushed aggregates was used in the development stage of the BE sensor design. The BE sensor results were also studied for a typical dense-graded base course aggregate commonly used in Illinois. Finally, the BE sensor was installed in a field trial in newly constructed airport pavement test sections, and its layer modulus measurements were compared with results estimated from Dynamic Cone Penetrometer testing. The new BE field sensor has proven to be a viable direct measurement technique in transportation geotechnics applications to monitor stiffness characteristics of pavement granular base/subbase layers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTransportation Research Record
PublisherSAGE Publishing
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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