A one dimensional numerical approach for computing the eigenmodes of elastic waves in buried pipelines

Wenbo Duan, Ray Kirby, Peter Mudge, Tat Hean Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Ultrasonic guided waves are often used in the detection of defects in oil and gas pipelines. It is common for these pipelines to be buried underground and this may restrict the length of the pipe that can be successfully tested. This is because acoustic energy travelling along the pipe walls may radiate out into the surrounding medium. Accordingly, it is important to develop a better understanding of the way in which elastic waves propagate along the walls of buried pipes, and so in this article a numerical model is developed that is suitable for computing the eigenmodes for uncoated and coated buried pipes. This is achieved by combining a one dimensional eigensolution based on the semi-analytic finite element (SAFE) method, with a perfectly matched layer (PML) for the infinite medium surrounding the pipe. This article also explores an alternative exponential complex coordinate stretching function for the PML in order to improve solution convergence. It is shown for buried pipelines that accurate solutions may be obtained over the entire frequency range typically used in long range ultrasonic testing (LRUT) using a PML layer with a thickness equal to the pipe wall thickness. This delivers a fast and computationally efficient method and it is shown for pipes buried in sand or soil that relevant eigenmodes can be computed and sorted in less than one second using relatively modest computer hardware. The method is also used to find eigenmodes for a buried pipe coated with the viscoelastic material bitumen. It was recently observed in the literature that a viscoelastic coating may effectively isolate particular eigenmodes so that energy does not radiate from these modes into the surrounding [elastic] medium. A similar effect is also observed in this article and it is shown that this occurs even for a relatively thin layer of bitumen, and when the shear impedance of the coating material is larger than that of the surrounding medium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-193
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sound and Vibration
Early online date21 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2016


  • Coated and buried pipes
  • Dispersion curves
  • Exponential coordinate stretching function
  • One dimensional PML
  • SAFE method


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