The safety of submarine pipelines is largely influenced by free spans and corrosions. Previous studies on free spans caused by seabed scours are mainly based on the stable environment, where the background seabed scour is in equilibrium and the soil is homogeneous. To study the effects of background erosion on the free span development of subsea pipelines, a submarine pipeline located at the abandoned Yellow River subaqueous delta lobe was investigated with an integrated surveying system which included a Multibeam bathymetric system, a dual-frequency side-scan sonar, a high resolution sub-bottom profiler, and a Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL) sensor. We found that seabed homogeneity has a great influence on the free span development of the pipeline. More specifically, for homogeneous background scours, the morphology of scour hole below the pipeline is quite similar to that without the background scour, whereas for inhomogeneous background scour, the nature of spanning is mainly dependent on the evolution of seabed morphology near the pipeline. Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL) detection results also reveal the possible connection between long free spans and accelerated corrosion of the pipeline.
- Submarine pipeline