Tactile pressure sensors for soil-structure interaction assessment

Michael C. Palmer, Thomas D. O'Rourke, Nathaniel A. Olson, Tarek Abdoun, Da Ha, Michael J. O'Rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides an assessment of tactile pressure sensors for geotechnical applications. A tactile pressure sensor is an array of small sensing units, called sensels, embedded in a polymeric sheet or pad that measures the magnitude and distribution of stresses normal to the sheet surface. Methods for minimizing the effects of shear on sensor measurements are discussed and the efficacy of these methods are demonstrated by laboratory experiments. The time-dependent characteristics of the sensors are evaluated and recommendations are provided for measurements that account for time-dependent effects. Tactile pressure sensor measurements in response to vertical loading and unloading and to lateral loads on full-scale pipelines affected by large horizontal ground movements are compared with independent measurements of the loads. Sensor measurements are used to show the distribution of normal stress on pipelines subject to large lateral soil movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1638-1645
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009


  • Assessment
  • Earthquakes
  • Pipelines
  • Soil-structure interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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