Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Shmulsky, Rubin

Committee Member

Seale, R. Dan

Committee Member

Jones, Paul David

Committee Member

Ross, Robert J.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Products

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Forest Resources


Department of Sustainable Bioproducts


Advanced nondestructive inspection techniques like stress wave timing and resistance microdrilling have been used to successfully inspection timber bridges, but it is most effective on girder style bridges. There is a noted need to develop additional inspection techniques for longitudinal deck/slab timber bridges, which comprise about 20% of the national bridge inventory. One technique that holds potential is ground penetrating radar, a recognized nondestructive testing technique that has been used effectively for many different environmental and transportation applications. It has been utilized successfully to identify buried objects, internal defects and material changes. The objective of this research was to assess the potential for using GPR to identify and assess simulated deterioration in longitudinal timber deck timber bridges. GPR scans were completed in the longitudinal and transverse directions of a screwlaminated timber bridge deck before and after a bituminous layer was added to assess embedded defects that simulated voids, decay, insect damage and horizontal shear splitting. Assessment of the GPR wave energy signal was completed using visualization software that was provided with the commercial GPR unit used for the testing. The radar signal was analyzed in both the longitudinal direction (antenna front to back) and the transverse direction (antenna side to side). Interpretation of the radar signals allowed for the identification of various internal defects present in the deck. Based on the results, GPR has the potential to identify internal defects in timber bridge decks before and after a bituminous layer was added. Large, rectangular void defects (at least 6? by 12? by 5 in. (15.2? by 30.4? by 12.7 cm)) that were hollow, filled with foam, or filled with sawdust/adhesive were most easily identified under all scanning conditions. The addition of a bituminous layer, common to slab bridge construction, damped the signal response and made it more difficult to identify defects. Several smaller defects that were found in the deck without a bituminous layer were not identified in scanning completed after the bituminous layer was added.



timber bridge||ground penetrating radar||nondestructive evaluation