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Rock Mechanics 13, 57--69 (1980) Rock Mechanics

M4canique des Roches
by Springer-Verlag 1980

Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data to Identify Characteristics

of Slope Movement
E. C. Kalkani

With 7 Figures
(Received December 18, 1979)

Zusammenfassung - - Summary - - Rdsum6

Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data to Identify Characteristics of Slope Move-

ment. Probe inclinometer measurements are employed to monitor rock slope move-
ments. The interference by errors in interpreting inclinometer results may be reduced
by several filtering techniques applied in processing data from the probe. Plotting
resulting vectors of displacement in a three dimensional system facilitates the deter-
mination of major characteristics of the slope movement and their association with
the geologic findings from the borehole.
Filtrierung von Sonden-Inklinometerdaten zur Identi[izierung von Charahteristika
von B6schungsbewegungen. Sonden-Inklinometer-Messungen werden dazu verwen-
det, Felsb6schungsbewegungen zu ~iberwachen. Die Fehlerinterferenz bei der Inter-
pretation von Inklinometerresultaten kann dadurch verringert werden, daf~ verschie-
dene Filtrierungstechniken w~ihrend der Verarbeitung der Met~ergebnisse angewen-
det werden. Durch die Aufzeichnung der resultierenden Bewegungsvektoren in einem
dreidimensionalen System wird die Bestimmung der Hauptcharakteristika der B6-
schungsbewegung und ihrer Beziehung zu den geologischen Daten des Bohrlochs
Filtrage des donndes d'un inclinomStre de sonde pour identifier les caract&isti-
ques d'un mouvement de pente. Les mesures d'inclinom6tre de sonde sont utilis4es
pour contr61er les mouvements des pentes rocheuses. L'influence des erreurs dans
l'interpr&ation des r~sultats de l'inclinom&re peut &re r6duite par diff~rentes tech-
niques de filtrage employdes lors du traitement des donndes de la sonde. La repr&
sentation des vecteurs de d6placement rdsultants dans un rep~re tri-dimensionnel
permet la d6termination aisde des caract4ristiques essentielles du mouvement de la
pente et son association avec la g6ologie du terrain ddduite de l'examen des carottes.


M o v e m e n t of rock slopes is usually monitored by installing cased bore-

holes and making measurements with a probe inclinometer at constant time
intervals. Recommendations on the use of the probe inclinometer are pub-
5 Rock Mechanics, Vol. 13/2

0035-7448/80/0013/0057/$ 02.60
58 E.C. Kalkani:

lished by the Commission on Standardization of Laboratory and Field Tests

(1977) 2. These instructions should be followed along with the care and
maintenance instructions of the manufacturer of the instrument.
Quite often measurements involve systematic and random errors which
cannot be handled in the field. Mathematical treatment and filtering of the
errors is then necessary before evaluating the displacements at each depth
of the borehole (Kalkani, 1978)1. Conventional plots of angle and dis-
placement against depth in the borehole are clearer and easier to interpret
after the data have been filtered. A plot presenting the trajectory of the
measured displacements at each depth allows visualizing the movement in
three dimensional space and associating its characteristics with the geologic
findings of the boring.

The Probe Inclinometer and Its Function

The probe inclinometer consists of a sealed aluminium cylinder having

two fixed and two spring mounted guide wheels parallel to the axis of the
instrument. The cylinder contains a uniaxial tilt sensor to measure the angle
between the probe axis and the vertical in the plane of the guide wheels.
The sensing device, which is a rotary potentiometer in the Slope Indicator
Co. Series 200-B used in this study* (bonded resistance strain gauges, vibrat-
ing wires, closed loop servo accelerometers are also used), is connected by
an electric cable to a readout box which usually includes a manual null-
balance bridge circuit (direct reading or digital voltmeter). The probe is
lowered in a casing grouted in a borehole and readings are taken at constant
intervals of depth. The casing has two pairs of diametrically opposite grooves
in which the guide wheels of the probe travel. One pair of grooves is usually
oriented along the north-south axis, so the other pair is on the east-west
faces of the casing.
The probe when operating at the site should display accuracy of 0.01
degrees or better. This accuracy should be maintained regardless of handling,
presence of water or corrosive environments encountered during its use.
The cable length should be clearly and correctly marked to an accuracy
better than 5 millimeters or +0.05% of the depth at which the probe is to
operate. At least two sets of initial readings for each bore should be aver-
aged to provide a basis for future observations. Time intervals between sets
of readings are specified according to the recorded rates of rock movement,
and should become more frequent for accelerating movements.
The measuring starts at the bottom of the borehole and the probe is
stopped at constant intervals of depth while readings are recorded. The bore
is traversed four times for each set of readings. By subtracting readings made
with the fixed wheels against the north face of the casing from those made
with the fixed wheels to the south, any error in the zero setting of the
probe is cancelled. The east and west measurements likewise require a pair
of traverses.

* Slope Indicator Co., 668 Albion Place, North Seattle, WA 98103, U. S. A.

Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data 59

Probe inclinometer instruments are designed to operate under severe

conditions. Regular maintenance should take place, however, to keep the
instrument in an acceptable condition. This means that the instrument should
be kept clean all the time and regular lubrication of the mechanical parts
should take place. No water should enter the cylinder, or the calibration of
the instrument can change. Careful handling of the instrument is required
to avoid striking the cylinder and damaging mechanical parts.
The casing in which the inclinometer travels should be cleared of debris
before use and should be capped during the intervals between runs. Each
day the inclinometer should be carefully checked, and ideally the calibration
should be verified with the probe mounted on a frame whose tilt can be
accurately set.
Error Intrusion and Filtering Technique
The readings made against the opposite faces of the casing should sum
to the same number, twice the zero inclination reading, at all dephts. This
sum should be checked in the field to detect incorrect readings and erroneous
measurements must be repeated until they are acceptable. Any sum of mea-
surements which differs from the mean by 5 times the probable error of a
single observation (which is 1 dial unit or 0.0290 in our case), as determined
from the scatter of the whole set of observations, should be repeated. Any
exceeding 31/2 times the probable error should be critically examined.
Systematic errors are those that appear with the same sign and usually
with similar magnitude in a set of consecutive or otherwise related obser-
vations. Repetition of measurements does nothing to reduce the adverse effect
of systematic errors. Hence, this type of error is most undesirable and much
care must be taken to avoid or eliminate systematic errors by frequent
electrical adjustment of the slope indicator.
Random errors vary from reading to reading, are both positive and
negative, and their effects can be reduced, albeit slowly, by averaging a
number of readings. The error of the mean of n observations is l / l / n - o f
the average error of an individual reading, so it will take 100 readings to
reduce random errors to a tenth of their single value. Random errors are
inevitable in nonuniformities of the casing, dirt, finite resolution of the
circuit balance and the like.
Probe inclinometer readings taken at a borehole located in a rock slope
along the banks of a reservoir in Greece indicated interference by both
systematic and random errors. In this study, 12 consecutive measurements
performed at 15-day intervals are examined.
Differences between the north and south readings and between east
and west readings are plotted versus depth in Fig. i for original data with
consecutive measurements displaced 10 dial units from each other. Each of
these differences minus the initial reading differences in the north-south and
east-west directions are plotted in Fig. 2 with original data at the same
spacing. Unconformity of data and deviations in the y direction are obvious
in Fig. 1. Deviations in the x direction are due to differences in inclination
60 E.C. Kalkani:

of 10 feet (3.05 m) long parts of borehole casing. The borehole depth reference
is in feet here and in the drawings, since the measurements were made at
the 2 foot (0.61 m) intervals marked on the probe cable.
Filtering techniques were applied to reduce the data. Differences of
filtered data for the north-south and east-west directions are plotted versus
depth in Fig. 3. Differences as defined previously minus the initial differences
of readings in the two directions as before are plotted versus depth in



b_ i 0 0

0 -20




i 140




'=J 4J '6J ~J '1oJ '1~J 14J '~J '1~J =J =J 24J '=d 26J '~oJ ~2J

Fig. 1. Perspective diagrams of probe inclinometer readings differences (north minus south
and east minus west), for 12 consecutive measurements, before filtering was applied

Fig. 4. The plots for each set of readings have a 10 dial unit spacing to
permit comparisons. The diagrams of filtered data reveal smoothness and
conformity in the y axis, which supports the reliability of the new set of data.
Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data 61

To filter systematic errors, the averages of the sums of opposite readings

at each depth were calculated and compared. Although that average should
be the same for each of the 12 consecutive measurements, it was found to




oa s0

z 40



-40 l ~ 141 161 IB~ l oj '12J ~14JI IBI ':BJ tr~O~ 122J I241 I26J I~8d 13oJ l~2J







Fig. 2. Perspective diagrams of p r o b e inclinometer readings differences (present difference

minus initial difference), before filtering was applied (11 measurements present)

change in an irregular way. This variation was due to a different condition

of the instrument each day a set of measurements was taken. Correction of
this error required multiplication of all readings with a correction factor so
that the averages of the sums of readings for all 12 runs should be equal.
Thus correction of systematic errors was performed between sets of mea-
62 E.C. K a l k a n i :

Further filtering of r a n d o m errors required a more sophisticated mathe-

matical theory including least squares and a moving average technique.
R a n d o m errors were due to imprecise circuit balance or improper probe
position at each specific measurement. When plotting the data in an x-y
system (y corresponding to north-south and x corresponding to east-west)
it was obvious that the variation of readings did not represent the expected







~l -20


'2d '4d '6d '~d '1od '~2J '14J '1~d '1~d '2od '22d '2,J '2~d '2~d '~od '32d




i 140





Fig. 3. Perspective diagrams of probe inclinometer readings differences (north minus south
and east minus west), for 12 consecutive measurements, after filtering was applied

smooth curve indicating movement of the measured angle to a certain direc-

tion. T h e theory used to filter out the r a n d o m errors is explained below.
Probe inclinometer data have the form of t w o pairs of observations on
the x-y plane at each depth of measurement. Let us call Rn, Rs, Re, Rw,
Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data 63

the readings in the north, south, east, and west directions respectively, and
assume that north corresponds to + y and east to + x .
Assuming that the movement of the casing at any depth will follow a
straight line or a slightly curved one, it is expected that the pairs of observa-







Z 40







Z 4O



Fig. 4. Perspective diagrams of probe inclinometer readings differences (present difference

minus initial difference), after filtering was applied (11 measurements present)

tions (Re~, Rnd, (Rw~, Rsd for time intervals i = 1, 2, o.., n will be near a
straight line. Hence, the random variable Rm in terms of Re~ may be written

Rni = a + b Re~+ei (~)

where a and b are constants determining the regression line intercept on the
Rn axis and the slope to the Re axis respectively, and e~ is the error which
64 E.C. Kalkani:

has mean zero. The estimates of a and b, so that the sum of squares of
the e~'s is minimum are

n ~ (Re~Rn~) - ( X R e i ) ( X Rm)
b ~
~_. i=1 i=1 i=1
n ~ (Re~) - ( ~ ~ei)~
i=1 i=1

X Rni b ,~ Rei
i=1 i=1
a u ~ (3)

Similar calculations are performed for the pair (Rwi, Rsi). For each set of
observations (Rei, Rni) and (Rwi, Rsi), i = 1 , 2 . . . . , n, the regression line is
computed on the x-y plane (Re and Rw are located on the x axis and Rn
and Rs are located on the y axis). The x-y system is transformed to a new
one x'-y', for each regression line, having its origin at the intersection of the
regression line and the y axis, while the x' axis coincides with the regression
line previously defined and the y' axis is perpendicular to the x' axis.
New coordinates are calculated (Re& Rm'), (Rw(, Rs() and the moving
average technique is applied on them to produce data variation along the
regression line in a smooth curve, which does not necessarily coincide with
the regression line. The new points are projected on the original x-y system
as filtered R2v, RE, Rs, Rw values, which undergo further smoothing along
each direction of measurement for the i = 1, 2 . . . . , n observations with the
moving average technique. This technique requires each reading at time i to
be substituted by the average of three consecutive readings at times i - 1 , i,
and i+1. End readings are replaced by their average with the adjacent
reading. The process is repeated until each reading replacing the previous
one does not differ from it more than 1 dial unit.
The final values as they have been filtered with the least squares and
moving average techniques are ready to be processed for the calculation of
the dial changes and displacements and graphical presentation of the results.

Dial Changes and Displacement Calculations

The filtered data are used to produce graphs of dial changes versus depth
and displacement versus depth. Also, graphs of displacements versus time
and displacements in the four compass directions for characteristic displace-
ment planes may be produced.
Calculations on the filtered data are made for the determination of the
incremental changes in angle or displacement. Angle changes 3 vq degrees
are converted into displacements S using the equation
S = s sin zl ~, (4)
where s is the distance between successive readings, and
sin A v~ = ( (Rat - Rs) initial - (RN -- Rs) present x
(instrument calibration factor). (5)
Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data 65

Summing displacements from the bottom to the top of the guide tube, a
graphical presentation of total displacement versus depth is produced.
The probe inclinometer measures displacements in directions perpen-
dicular to the borehole axis, so that the lateral ground movement of the
casing can be localized. Readings taken over a period of time for the same
borehole are used to determine the magnitude, direction and rate of move-
ment of the rock slope. The two most frequently prepared plots are the



} 3s




I ME ( DAY~ )

Fig. 5. Diagram of displacement vector versus time for measurements taken by precision
surveying in the field, and regression line representation

angle changes or dial changes versus depth and the displacements versus
depth. These plots are drawn for north-south and east-west pairs separately,
considering north and east directions of movement positive, while south and
west measurements are negative.
Calculation of the resultant of the two vectors of dial changes in the
two major compass directions gives the measure of deviation from the bore-
hole axis of the total dial change. It has been noted that the original data
with inherent systematic and random errors indicate considerable noise in
the resultant vector dial change plot, while this noise is absent in the filtered
data plot. The peak of dial changes at depth 285 feet (86.78 m) in Fig. 4
indicates a major sliding plane with dial change values gradually increasing.
Indication of sliding planes at depths 19, 189, 241, and 299 feet (5.79, 57.61,
73.46, 91.14 m) in Fig. 2 constitute only minor movement events in the dia-
gram of filtered readings of Fig. 4.
High precision surveying performed using a benchmark near the posi-
tion of the slope indicator borehole gave measurements of displacements
plotted versus time in Fig. 5. These measurements taken over a period of
250 days, which included the period of slope indicator measurements, display
a variation due to random errors in the measurements. Regression analysis
applied to these measurements gives the dotted line of the diagram in Fig. 5.
66 E.C. Kalkani:





,-~ o


S~3~3WI77I~ ~ N3W3OVT~SIO

Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data 67

Points on this line represent the best estimates of the displacement values
with respect to time. Considering that the period of the 12 consecutive mea-
surements with the slope indicator is approximately 165 days, it is easily
calculated that the corresponding displacement shown by the regression line
of Fig. 5 is 26.4 millimeters (displacement = regression line solpe time =
0.16 x 165 = 26.4 mm). This value of displacement is not far from the value
of 27 mm displacement indicated by the slope indicator. Vectors of dis-
placements along the north-south and east-west axes plotted for every 2 feet
(60.96 cm) of depth give the diagram of Fig. 6 for filtered data. Magnitudes
of the resulting displacement vector for original data are up to 72 and 75 mm
at the top of the borehole. The maximum resulting displacement for filtered
data near the top of the borehole is approximately 27 mm. This value
gradually decreases to a depth of 243 feet (74.07 m), and remains almost
constant down to 285 feet (86.87 m) at a magnitude of 16 ram. At that
depth the sliding plane is found. Only minor displacements exist from below
the slide to the bottom of the borehole.

Slope Movement Characteristics

The vectors of the displacement of the borehole in three dimensions are
shown in Fig. 6. A mechanical model constructed from Fig. 6 and from the
core taken from the bore is shown in Fig. 7. A column whose north-eastern
corner coincides with the borehole is considered in the model. The position
of the displaced column is shown along with the vectors of displacement
at various characteristic levels.
The displacement vector at zero depth has a magnitude of 27 mm and
is directed 35 degrees south-west, as shown in Fig. 6. This direction cor-
responds to the general motion of sliding detected by extended precision
surveying on the surface of the rock mass. From the top of the borehole to
a depth of 133 feet (40.54 m) the direction of the displacement vector changes
slightly, while no substantial change to its magnitude is observed. This zone
of 133 feet (40.54 m) consists of weathered boitite gneiss which moves with
a rather constant velocity in a fairly stable direction.
At the depth of 133 feet (40.54 m) the direction of movement begins to
change. The displacement vector shifts towards the south, while its magni-
tude varies from 25 millimeters at a depth of 133 feet (40.54 m) to 19 mm
at a depth of 231 feet (70.41 m). This zone consists of biotite gneiss with
aplitic veins or muscovite gneiss layers. The rock is tectonized and weathered
with occurrence of joints every 10 to 20 feet (3.05 to 6.10 m).
From 231 feet (70.41 m) to 285 feet (86.87 m) considerable deviation in
the direction of movement is occurring from south to 20 degrees south-east,
with a change of the vector magnitude form 19 mm to 16 ram. This part
of the borehole is in a zone of tectonized biotite gneiss with frequent occur-
rence of aplitic veins. At the depth of 285 feet (86.87 m) there is a shear plane
consisting of a seam of my]onite 2 cm in thickness. This creates the dis-
continuity of the displacement vector representation in the diagram in Fig. 6
at 285 feet (86.87 m). From this depth to the bottom of the borehole at
68 E.C. Kalkani:

317 feet (96.62 m) the displacement vectors are almost 90 degrees south-west,
their magnitude is small, and they are decreasing to zero at the bottom of
the borehole. In this last zone, the rock consists of good quality biotite gneiss.







60 o




Fig. 7. Mechanical model of a column of the rock slope indicating the displaced planes at
characteristic depths and the displacement vectors

The characteristics of the rock movement at the different depths of the

borehole indicate the variation of the direction of movement as well as the
magnitude of movement which we have correlated to the geologic findings
of the borehole. This complicated movement is expected in metamorphic
rocks, where rock differentiation in the gneissic mass results in a viscous
behaviour of the rock slope.

Original probe inclinometer measurements were corrected for systematic
errors and mathematically filtered to reduce effects of random errors. The
reduced magnitudes of displacement compared favourably with precisely
surveyed movements. Similarly, comparison of displacement directions and
magnitudes to the geology of the rock slope indicated a viscous behaviour
of the movement of the solpe fairly common in metamorphic formations.
Filtering Probe Inclinometer Data 69


Sincere appreciation is expressed to Curtis A. J o n e s for his useful


1 K alk ani, E. C. (1978) : Probe Inclinometer Data Filtering to Ascertain Slope
"Stability, Proc. Measurement and Control Int. Symp., June 1978, Athens, Greece.
2 The Commission on Standardization of Laboratory and Field Tests, 1977,
"Suggested Methods for Monitoring Rock Movements Using Inclinometers and
Tiltmeters", Rock Mechanics, Vol. 10/1-2, 81--106.

Address of the author: Dr. E. C. Kalkani, Department of Geophysics, Stan-

ford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U. S. A.