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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 34, Issue 1 — January 2008

Decay Detection in Red Oak Trees Using a Combination of Visual Inspection, Acoustic Testing, and Resistance Microdrilling    (View PDF)

Xiping Wang and R. Bruce Allison

Abstract: Arborists are often challenged to identify internal structural defects hidden from view within tree trunks. This article reports the results of a study using a trunk inspection protocol combining visual observation, single-path stress wave testing, acoustic tomography, and resistance microdrilling to detect internal defects. Two century-old red oak (Quercus rubra) trees located in Capitol Park, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., were visually inspected and then evaluated using a single-path stress wave timer, an acoustic tomography, and a resistance measuring drill. The trees were subsequently felled, and a disk at each test location was obtained and examined. It was found that the visual inspection and single-path stress wave tests correctly identified a general problem but without specificity; the tomograph accurately revealed the general location and magnitude of the defect within the cross-sections tested but required resistance microdrilling to precisely locate defects and differentiate between decay and crack-induced acoustic shadows.

Keywords: Acoustic tomography; crack; decay; hazard tree; resistance microdrilling; Resistograph; risk assessment; stress wave

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