The problem:

Scour is the erosion of river bed or bank material by the action of the flowing water. It is one of the leading causes of bridge failure around the world. There are several types of scour (aggradation, degradation, contraction etc) but it is local or or abutment scour that causes most catastrophic failures and which can be monitored by Muir Matheson systems.

One of the UK’s worst bridge collapses happened in November 2009 in Cumbria when Workington’s Northside Bridge began to “pitch and buck” before collapsing into the River Derwent. The accident highlighted the need for continual scour monitoring on bridges of all sizes crossing rivers with variable flows. As a consequence Muir Matheson have modified their Environmental monitoring software and, using their experience with Spud Scour monitoring in the Oil & gas industry, have developed a bridge scour monitoring system.

The Solution:

Combining Tritech’s sonic altimeter to measure the distance from a fixed point on the abutment to the river bed at the base of the abutment along with a carefully calibrated pressure sensor to monitor the level of the river, SMS or email warnings can be automatically triggered when either short term step change limits or long term maxima are detected.

Data logging over time can be set up to identify long term and seasonal trends and, by using the low powered loggers from Campbell Scientific the entire system can be self contained as a solar powered unit discreetly fixed under the bridge arch.


  • Tel: 01224 791222
  • Fax: 01224 791555



  • Muir Matheson Limited
  • Aberlan House
  • Woodburn Road
  • Blackburn Industrial Estate
  • Aberdeen
  • AB21 0RX
  • United Kingdom
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  • Registered in Scotland No. SC182820
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  • Registered Office: Aberlan House