A comprehensive instrumentation system has been installed on two piers of The Confederation Bridge with the purpose of monitoring the behaviour of ice against the conical piers, and to measure the resulting ice forces and structure response. At the water line, the piers consist of 52° cones with a waterline diameter of 14 meters. During the winter of 1996–97, the system was installed and data acquired from many of the instrumentation components. The observations obtained during this fIrst winter of data acquisition have provided valuable additional information regarding the behaviour of level and ridged ice against conical structures. Over a period of 10 days, 150 individual interactions for which loads were measured, occurred. For these events, the characteristics of the interacting ice feature (thickness, areal extent, speed, keel depth, etc.), and the characteristics of the actual interaction (ride-up height, pile-up geometry) have been determined. The results from the first winter of observations suggest that the proposed five-year program will ultimately result in an extensive database of interactions between first-year ice cover and conical structures.


The Confederation Bridge is located in a region (Figure 1) that experiences ice every winter. Ice forces were therefore important in the design of the bridge piers, and the associated foundations (Brown et al, 1996), and the assessment of the environmental impacts of the bridge. Because of the bridge's exposure to a large number of interactions every winter, and its relative ease of access, the bridge represents a unique opportunity as a test-bed for the measurement of ice forces, and the observation of ice behaviour. The bridge has therefore been extensively instrumented for the measurement of ice forces and the observation of ice behaviour against the piers, as part of a number of applied research programs.

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