Structural health assessment of Puente del Inca natural monument using the integration of instruments and technologies

E. Lannutti, M.G. Lenzano, J. Barón, S. Moragues, L. Lenzano


Puente del Inca is a natural monument standing over the Cuevas river in Mendoza, Argentina. The bridge currently exhibits structural deterioration due to natural and anthropic factors. This article seeks to offer a contribution to the conservation and restoration works of Puente del Inca by integrating instruments and technologies that allow the assessment of the health state of the natural bridge. The study relied on visual inspection, accretion-erosion rate measurements, hydrothermal flow characterization, ground-penetrating radar, soil dielectric sensor, Global Navigation Satellite System, laboratory testing, Structure from Motion, the Finite Element Method and ambient vibration testing. The results show that the morphology and health of the natural bridge depend on the dynamic balance between the erosion and the geobiological system intervening in the formation of the travertine constituting the natural bridge. The computational structural modeling demonstrates that there is a controversy between the benefit of irrigating the geological formation with thermal water and the loss of stability of the bridge under saturation conditions. Nevertheless, a continuous monitoring and an efficient administration of thermal water may ensure the deceleration of most of the erosive processes as well as the improvement of the geobiological system health.


Natural bridge; Puente del Inca; geobiological system; computational structural modeling

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