Design and characterization of a compact array of MEMS accelerometers for geotechnical instrumentation

V. Bennett, T. Abdoun, T. Shantz, D. Jang, S. Thevanayagam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) accelerometers in geotechnical instrumentation is relatively new but on the rise. This paper describes a new MEMS-based system for in situ deformation and vibration monitoring. The system has been developed in an effort to combine recent advances in the miniaturization of sensors and electronics with an established wireless infrastructure for on-line geotechnical monitoring. The concept is based on triaxial MEMS accelerometer measurements of static acceleration (angles relative to gravity) and dynamic accelerations. The dynamic acceleration sensitivity range provides signals proportional to vibration during earthquakes or construction activities. This MEMS-based in-place inclinometer system utilizes the measurements to obtain three-dimensional (3D) ground acceleration and permanent deformation profiles up to a depth of one hundred meters. Each sensor array or group of arrays can be connected to a wireless earth station to enable real-time monitoring as well as remote sensor configuration. This paper provides a technical assessment of MEMS-based in-place inclinometer systems for geotechnical instrumentation applications by reviewing the sensor characteristics and providing small-and full-scale laboratory calibration tests. A description and validation of recorded field data from an instrumented unstable slope in California is also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-679
Number of pages17
JournalSmart Structures and Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Autonomous geotechnical monitoring
  • MEMS
  • Wireless data transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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