Doctoral Dissertations


Yan Tang


"This study aims to develop and implement a novel smart rock technology for real-time monitoring of the maximum scour depth and the effectiveness of riprap mitigation measures. A smart rock is one or more stacked magnets encased in concrete that can automatically roll to the deepest point of a scour hole around a bridge pier and provide its location through remote measurement over time. Once integrated into a riprap measure, the smart rock moves together with natural rocks and is thus a potential indicator of the effectiveness of the riprap measure. Therefore, the localization and movement of smart rocks were investigated and validated at various bridge sites. Specifically, three types of spherical smart rocks designated as Arbitrarily Oriented System (AOS), Automatically Pointing South System (APSS) and Automatically Pointing Upward System (APUS) were deployed. The AOS and APSS were employed to develop and validate the localization algorithm at an open and bridge sites. The APUS was used in smart rock prototyping for field testing and implementation at three bridge sites. It was demonstrated that the effect of steel reinforcement in bridge piers and decks on the orientation of smart rocks was negligible. The localization accuracy with a single smart rock met the general requirements for scour depth measurement in engineering application. The spherical smart rock placed directly on riverbed at Roubidoux Creek successfully demonstrated its movement to the scour hole during the December 27, 2015, flood. The smart rocks deployed at Waddell Creek and at Gasconade River, however, were washed away. Thus, additional smart rocks were deployed by making their top in flush with the riverbed for future monitoring. Additionally, spherical smart rocks are not stable for riprap effectiveness monitoring and polyhedral shapes are recommended for future study"--Abstract, page iii.


Chen, Genda

Committee Member(s)

Yan, Guirong Grace
Sneed, Lesley
Mendoza, Cesar
Pommerenke, David


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D. in Civil Engineering


United States. Department of Transportation. Office of Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
Missouri. Department of Transportation


Financial support for this study was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (USDOT/OST-R) under Cooperative Agreement No. OASRTRS-14-H-MST and by Missouri Department of Transportation (in-kind).


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Spring 2017


xiii, 161 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographic references (pages 152-160).


© 2017 Yan Tang, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Thesis Number

T 11123

Electronic OCLC #