Nondestructive Sonic Echo (SE) field tests have shown that this method does not have a satisfactory performance in determining the depth of piles fully buried underneath pile caps. In the current study, we endeavored to investigate the possibility of improving SE methodology to obtain interpretable results leading to determining the depth of buried piles in such foundations. The results obtained from the investigated numerical models indicated that the location of the pile toe could be determined when the height of the pile cap is less than 1 m. However, this value is questionable since it has been concluded in the absence of surrounding soil damping. In real bridge foundations with surrounding soils, the SE method may only be able to detect the length of a pile located beneath a cap with a height significantly smaller than 1 m. In summary, our simplified models show that the SE test is not a proper method to determine the length of fully buried piles supporting caps due to the limitations and difficulties discussed in the article.
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