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In the backcalculation of moduli in Falling Weight Deflectometer, why are non-unique solutions generated?

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Falling Weight Deflectometer is a non-destructive test applied to pavement for structural evaluation. The loads applied in Falling Weight Deflectometer are of impulse type (quasi-static load in Benkelman Beam) and it serves to simulate actual truck wheel load. Surface deflections induced by the impulse load are measured by some sensors located at the pavement and the pavement surface’s deflections form a deflection basin. The measured deflections can then be adopted to estimate the elastic moduli of pavement structural layers by backcalculation.

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In backcalculation process, a pavement model is firstly established to represent the exiting pavement structure. Trial values of moduli of structural layers are used to calculate the theoretical deflections of pavement model and these values are compared with the measured deflections in Falling Weight Deflectometer. The trial moduli are then adjusted iteratively until both values agree closely with one another.

However, it is observed that the backcalculated moduli based on the analysis of Falling Weight Deflectometer is dependent on software and user. Different computer programmes can generate different values of backcalculated moduli from the same deflection basin. In fact, for a given deflection basin, there are numerous combinations of trial modulus which can satisfy the deflection envelope with a certain accuracy level and hence it may result in non-unique solution developed.

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This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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