Resonant Frequency Monitoring at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Alison Dorsey, Jeffrey R Moore, Michael Scott Thorne and Jordan Culp, University of Utah, Geology and Geophysics, Salt Lake City, UT, United States
The national parks of southern Utah are home to a number of spectacular landmarks that draw visitors from across the world. However, there is currently no methodology in place to evaluate the structural health of these structures as they change through time or in the wake of a damaging event. Our study combines in-situ ambient vibration measurements with 3D numerical modeling to monitor the resonance characteristics of Mesa Arch, a prominent arch in Canyonlands National Park. We measure spectral and polarization attributes of ambient vibrations using two broadband seismometers: one placed on the arch and the other located at a distance of ~100 m for reference. Repeat measurements, ranging in duration from 1 hour to 3 days, are aimed at assessing short- and long-term changes in resonance characteristics, which in turn provide evidence of internal mechanical change. Numerical modal analysis, executed by inputting geometric and representative material properties of the arch into 3D modeling software, allows us to match the measured fundamental frequency as well as higher-order modes. Preliminary results suggest minor variations in resonant frequencies are predominantly controlled by thermal effects, i.e. changes in bulk material stiffness as the rock expands and contracts.