News at the University of New Brunswick

UNB researchers to create guidelines for safety and integrity of critical infrastructure

Author: Communications

Posted on Apr 28, 2010

Category: UNB Fredericton

There is growing worldwide demand to monitor and protect against hazards such as ground movement and security threats to critical infrastructure such as dams, power plants, bridges, airports, mines, pipelines and oil and gas installations.

By combining new survey technologies with integrated analysis of structural and ground deformation, a new research initiative at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton will provide a better method of monitoring these types of infrastructure for stability and security purposes.

UNB’s Canadian Centre for Geodetics Engineering (CCGE) has partnered with the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE), a not-for-profit R&D corporation specializing in engineering solutions and located in Saint John’s N.L., to study the integrity and security of critical infrastructure.

From UNB, Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski will lead this research project and Adam Chrzanowski will be a key participant.

“There are many unknowns in predicting stability of large structures,” said Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski. “It’s important to constantly monitor and test these types of infrastructure in order to provide early warning and develop prediction methods for any future developments.”

This four-year research project has a total estimated cost of $5.3 million. Funding was secured after a $2.2 million commitment from the Atlantic Innovation Fund Round VII, which recently invested $62.4 million into R&D in Atlantic Canada. Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski and her team will be able to provide physical interpretation of ground and structural deformations by actually combining high precision monitoring measurements with the knowledge of material parameters and relationship between the acting loads and observed displacements.

“The observations of displacements on the ground surface will permit us, for example, to see what changes are undergoing in the rock strata due to mining activity,” said Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski.

She says what makes this research unique is their level of expertise in monitoring and modeling of deformations.

“We’re going to know more than just whether the behaviour of exitsting structure is safe or not,” said Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski. “We will be able to provide information on the predicted deformation for a better design and operation of future structures.”

The research will lead to a set of guidelines, which the researchers are hoping will be adopted by government and industry.

Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski and her team at CCGE specialize in geodetic and engineering surveys of high precision, deformation monitoring and analysis, and numerical modeling of structural and ground deformations. They have worked on projects all over the world including Canada, USA, Chile, Peru, Poland, Venezuela and right here in New Brunswick on the Mactaquac dam and in potash mines near Sussex.

About UNB

Established in 1785, UNB is one of the oldest public universities in North America. With more than 12,500 full- and part-time students from more than 100 countries, UNB has the best student-to-faculty ratio of Canada’s comprehensive universities, according to Maclean’s magazine. As the largest research institution in New Brunswick, UNB conducts over 75 per cent of the province’s university research. The university has an annual operating budget of more than $165 million and annually employs more than 3,500 faculty, staff and students. UNB’s two main campuses are located in Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick.


Natasha St. Pierre, Communication Officer (506) 458-7969