SENSORS, vol.10, no.12, pp.10803-10827, 2010 (SCI-Expanded)
One of the most intricate branches of metrology involves the monitoring of displacements and deformations of natural and anthropogenic structures under environmental forces, such as tidal or tectonic phenomena, or ground water level changes. Technological progress has changed the measurement process, and steadily increasing accuracy requirements have led to the continued development of new measuring instruments. The adoption of an appropriate measurement strategy, with proper instruments suited for the characteristics of the observed structure and its environmental conditions, is of high priority in the planning of deformation monitoring processes. This paper describes the use of precise digital inclination sensors in continuous monitoring of structural deformations. The topic is treated from two viewpoints: (i) evaluation of the performance of inclination sensors by comparing them to static and continuous GPS observations in deformation monitoring and (ii) providing a strategy for analyzing the structural deformations. The movements of two case study objects, a tall building and a geodetic monument in Istanbul, were separately monitored using dual-axes micro-radian precision inclination sensors (inclinometers) and GPS. The time series of continuous deformation observations were analyzed using the Least Squares Spectral Analysis Technique (LSSA). Overall, the inclinometers showed good performance for continuous monitoring of structural displacements, even at the sub-millimeter level. Static GPS observations remained insufficient for resolving the deformations to the sub-centimeter level due to the errors that affect GPS signals. With the accuracy advantage of inclination sensors, their use with GPS provides more detailed investigation of deformation phenomena. Using inclinometers and GPS is helpful to be able to identify the components of structural responses to the natural forces as static, quasi-static, or resonant.