With the advent of wireless geophysical sensor networks in the form of highly sensitive, multi-functional, accurately time-synchronized and spatially located motes, continuous and automated geophysical monitoring of earthen dams and levees will soon be an economical approach to risk mitigation. While standard wired geophysical surveys such as Self Potential (SP), Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and seismic refraction or surface wave profiling can be extremely useful in characterizing earthen embankments, they constitute an expensive one-time investigation with the shortcoming of not being able to provide preemptive monitoring or early detection of developing seepage zones or structural weaknesses. Standard one-time geophysical surveys also exhibit added risks including potentially insufficient data coverage, inaccurate or noisy data and ultimately inconclusive results. Conversely, a permanently installed network of wireless motes across the length of an earthen structure would offer accurate, comprehensive and continuous monitoring.


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