Nondestructive Evaluation of Pile Length for High-Mast Light Towers

Daniel V Kennedy, Bojan B. Guzina, Joseph F. Labuz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Records of pile lengths are not available for several hundred high-mast light towers (HMLTs) throughout the state of Minnesota. The foundation systems, typically steel H-piles or concrete-filled steel pipe piles connected to a triangular concrete pile cap, risk overturning in the event of peak wind loadings if the foundation piles are not sufficiently deep to provide the designed uplift capacity. Without prior knowledge of the in situ pile lengths, an expensive tower foundation retrofit or replacement effort would need to be undertaken. However, the development of a nondestructive screening tool to determine the in situ pile length - compared with replacing or retrofitting all towers with unknown foundation geometries - would potentially provide significant cost savings. The main goal of the research is the development of nondestructive evaluation testing techniques for determining in situ pile lengths using steady-state vibration and hammer-impact seismic testing. The foundation testing protocol involves (1) a preliminary site investigation to determine the shallow subsurface geometry and orientation of the foundation pile cap, (2) the use of seismic cone penetrometer (SCP) attached to a cone penetration test rig to capture the induced steady-state and impact waveforms, and (3) data-driven analysis of field testing results to determine the pile lengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04024059
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • In situ pile depth
  • Nondestructive evaluation (NDE)
  • Seismic methods


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