Detection and location of leaks in buried plastic fluid-filled pipes are topics of increasing concern for water distribution companies. Acoustic correlation techniques have been widely used to provide an accurate estimate of the position of a leak in order to reduce the wastage of water. However, this technique depends on an accurate estimate of the wave propagation speed along the pipe, which is heavily dependent on the type of soil in which the pipe is buried. The soil also affects the distance that leak noise will propagate along the pipe. This paper describes theoretical and experimental investigations into the way the coupling conditions between the pipe and the soil affects the propagation characteristics of the wave that propagates leak noise in the pipe. Two water pipe systems which have different soil properties are considered: one is in Brazil and the other one is in UK. For the Brazilian pipe system, it is found that the shear modulus rather than the bulk modulus of the soil, has a profound effect on the wave motion in the pipe since it is buried in a clay-like soil. In this case, only the shear wave in the soil propagates away from the pipe. For the UK pipe system, which has sandy soil, both compressional and shear waves propagate away from the pipe. An analysis of the physical effects of fluid-pipe-soil interface and their corresponding parameters on the pipe wave speed and attenuation is also carried out. The results show that the axial coupling between the pipe and the soil has an important effect in the UK pipe system, but has a negligible effect in the Brazilian pipe system.

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