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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 29, Issue 2 — March 2003

Application and Comparison of Three Tomographic Techniques for Detection of Decay in Trees    (View PDF)

G. Nicolotti, L.V. Socco, R. Martinis, A. Godio, and L. Sambuelli

Abstract: This paper reports application of electric, ultrasonic, and georadar tomography for detection of decay in trees and their comparison with the traditional penetrometer. Their feasibility in arboriculture is also evaluated, critically considering some "open problems." The experiments were carried out in an urban environment on two plane (Platanus hybrida Brot.) trees. Both trees, after felling, showed extensive white rot in the central cylinder. The electric tomography revealed low resistivity zones roughly centered in the trunk. A comparison with the successively cut sections showed a fine correspondence to decayed areas and a strong correspondence between high moisture zones and low resistivity zones. Ultrasonic tomography demonstrated to be a very effective tool for the detection of internal decay, accurately locating the position of the anomalies and estimating their size, shape, and characteristic in terms of mechanical properties. With the georadar technique, the high contrast of electromagnetic impedance measured between the inner decayed section and the outside sound section allowed the detection of the interface between the sound and decayed section of the tree, using radar acquisition in reflection modality. The penetrometer profiles detected the low-resistance areas inside the two trunks.

Keywords: Tree stability; wood decay; tomography; ultrasound; electric; georadar.

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