A piezometer is either a device used to measure liquid pressure in a system by measuring the height to which a column of the liquid rises against gravity, or a device which measures the pressure (more precisely, the piezometric head) of groundwater [1] at a specific point. A piezometer is designed to measure static pressures, and thus differs from a pitot tube by not being pointed into the fluid flow.

Observation wells give some information on the water level in a formation, but must be read manually. Electrical pressure transducers of several types can be read automatically, making data acquisition more convenient.

Groundwater measurement

Zone de l'union6476
Above-ground casing of a piezometer

The first piezometers in geotechnical engineering were open wells or standpipes (sometimes called Casagrande piezometers)[2] installed into an aquifer. A Casagrande piezometer will typically have a solid casing down to the depth of interest, and a slotted or screened casing within the zone where water pressure is being measured. The casing is sealed into the drillhole with clay, bentonite or concrete to prevent surface water from contaminating the groundwater supply. In an unconfined aquifer, the water level in the piezometer would not be exactly coincident with the water table, especially when the vertical component of flow velocity is significant. In a confined aquifer under artesian conditions, the water level in the piezometer indicates the pressure in the aquifer, but not necessarily the water table.[3] Piezometer wells can be much smaller in diameter than production wells, and a 5 cm diameter standpipe is common.

Piezometers in durable casings can be buried or pushed into the ground to measure the groundwater pressure at the point of installation. The pressure gauges (transducer) can be vibrating-wire, pneumatic, or strain-gauge in operation, converting pressure into an electrical signal. These piezometers are cabled to the surface where they can be read by data loggers or portable readout units, allowing faster or more frequent reading than is possible with open standpipe piezometers.

See also


  1. ^ Dunnicliff, John (1993) [1988]. Geotechnical Instrumentation for Monitoring Field Performance. Wiley-Interscience. p. 117. ISBN 0-471-00546-0.
  2. ^ Casagrande, A (1949). Soil Mechanics in the design and Construction of the Logan Airport. J. Boston Soc. Civil Eng., Vol 36, No. 2. pp. 192–221.
  3. ^ Manual on Suburface Investigations, 1988, [[American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials]] page 182


Alarm sensor

In telecommunication, the term alarm sensor has the following meanings:

1. In communications systems, a device that can sense an abnormal condition within the system and provide a signal indicating the presence or nature of the abnormality to either a local or remote alarm indicator, and (b) may detect events ranging from a simple contact opening or closure to a time-phased automatic shutdown and restart cycle.

2. In a physical security system, an approved device used to indicate a change in the physical environment of a facility or a part thereof.

3. In electronic security systems, a physical device or change/presence of any electronic signal/logic which causes trigger to electronic circuit to perform application specific operation. In electronic alarm systems the use of this trigger event done by such devices is to turn on the alarm or siren producing sound and/or perform a security calling through telephone lines.

Note: Alarm sensors may also be redundant or chained, such as when one alarm sensor is used to protect the housing, cabling, or power protected by another alarm sensor.

Source: from Federal Standard 1037C and from MIL-STD-188 and from TRISHAM Software Systems

Catadioptric sensor

A catadioptric sensor is a visual sensor that contains mirrors (catoptrics) and lenses (dioptrics), a combined catadioptric system. These are panoramic sensors created by pointing a camera at a curved mirror.

Catalytic bead sensor

A catalytic bead sensor is a type of sensor that is used for combustible gas detection from the family of gas sensors known as pellistors.

Electromechanical film

Electromechanical Film is a thin membrane whose thickness is related to an electric voltage. It can be used as a pressure sensor, microphone, or a speaker. It can also convert electrical energy to vibration, functioning as an actuator.

Hook gauge evaporimeter

A Hook gauge evaporimeter is a precision instrument used to measure changes in water levels due to evaporation. It is used

to precisely measure the level of a free water surface as an evaporation pan or a tank. The main users are meteorologists and water engineers, especially in hot, arid countries where water conservation is of vital importance.


A humistor is a type of variable resistor whose resistance varies based on humidity.

Hydraulic head

Hydraulic head or piezometric head is a specific measurement of liquid pressure above a vertical datum.It is usually measured as a liquid surface elevation, expressed in units of length, at the entrance (or bottom) of a piezometer. In an aquifer, it can be calculated from the depth to water in a piezometric well (a specialized water well), and given information of the piezometer's elevation and screen depth. Hydraulic head can similarly be measured in a column of water using a standpipe piezometer by measuring the height of the water surface in the tube relative to a common datum. The hydraulic head can be used to determine a hydraulic gradient between two or more points.

Intelligent sensor

An intelligent sensor is a sensor that takes some predefined action when it senses the appropriate input (light, heat, sound, motion, touch, etc.).

List of sensors

This is a list of sensors sorted by sensor type.

Paleostress inversion

Paleostress inversion refers to the determination of paleostress history from evidence found in rocks, based on the principle that past tectonic stress should have left traces in the rocks. Such relationships have been discovered from field studies for years: qualitative and quantitative analyses of deformation structures are useful for understanding the distribution and transformation of paleostress fields controlled by sequential tectonic events. Deformation ranges from microscopic to regional scale, and from brittle to ductile behaviour, depending on the rheology of the rock, orientation and magnitude of the stress etc. Therefore, detailed observations in outcrops, as well as in thin sections, are important in reconstructing the paleostress trajectories.

Inversions require assumptions in order to simplify the complex geological processes. The stress field is assumed to be spatially uniform for a faulted rock mass and temporally stable over the concerned period of time when faulting occurred in that region. In other words, the effect of local fault slip is ignored in the variation in small-scale stress field. Moreover, the maximum shear stress resolved on the fault surface from the known stress field and the slip on each of the fault surface has the same direction and magnitude. Since the first introduction of the methods by Wallace and Bott in the 1950s, similar assumptions have been used throughout the decades.


A pellistor is a solid-state device used to detect gases which are either combustible or which have a significant difference in thermal conductivity to that of air. The word "pellistor" is a combination of pellet and resistor.


"Piezo", derived from the Greek piezein, which means to squeeze or press, is a prefix used in:

Micro Piezo print head technology

Piezo Audio Amplifier

Piezo ignition

Piezoelectric pickups for guitars and other musical instruments

Piezoelectric sensor

Piezoelectric speakers, loudspeakers



Piezoresistive effect

Pore water pressure

Pore water pressure (sometimes abbreviated to pwp) refers to the pressure of groundwater held within a soil or rock, in gaps between particles (pores). Pore water pressures below the phreatic level of the groundwater are measured with piezometers. The vertical pore water pressure distribution in aquifers can generally be assumed to be close to hydrostatic.

In the unsaturated ("vadose") zone, the pore pressure is determined by capillarity and is also referred to as tension, suction, or matric pressure. Pore water pressures under unsaturated conditions are measured with tensiometers, which operate by allowing the pore water to come into equilibrium with a reference pressure indicator through a permeable ceramic cup placed in contact with the soil.

Pore water pressure is vital in calculating the stress state in the ground soil mechanics, from Terzaghi's expression for the effective stress of a soil.

Position sensor

A position sensor is any device that permits position measurement. It can either be an absolute position sensor or a relative one (displacement sensor). Position sensors can be linear, angular, or multi-axis.

Some position sensors available today:

Capacitive transducer

Capacitive displacement sensor

Eddy-current sensor

Ultrasonic sensor

Grating sensor

Hall effect sensor

Inductive non-contact position sensors

Laser Doppler vibrometer (optical)

Linear variable differential transformer (LVDT)

Multi-axis displacement transducer

Photodiode array

Piezo-electric transducer (piezo-electric)


Proximity sensor (optical)

Rotary encoder (angular)

Seismic displacement pick-up

String potentiometer (also known as string pot., string encoder, cable position transducer)

Confocal chromatic sensor

Quartz thermometer

The quartz thermometer is a high-precision, high accuracy temperature sensor. It measures temperature by measuring the frequency of a quartz crystal oscillator. The oscillator contains a specially cut crystal that results in a linear temperature coefficient of frequency, so the measurement of the temperature is essentially reduced to measurement of the oscillator frequency. Resolutions of .0001 °C, and accuracy of .02 °C from 0-100 °C are achievable. The high linearity makes it possible to achieve high accuracy over an important temperature range that contains only one convenient temperature reference point for calibration, the triple point of water.

Introduced by Hewlett-Packard in 1965, the successor company, Agilent, has discontinued the Model 2804A Quartz Thermometer.

Other manufacturers make nearly linear-in-temperature quartz crystals that may be used to construct thermometers of similar performance.

Velocity receiver

A velocity receiver (velocity sensor) is a sensor that responds to velocity rather than absolute position. For example, dynamic microphones are velocity receivers. Likewise, many electronic keyboards used for music are velocity sensitive, and may be said to possess a velocity receiver in each key. Most of these function by measuring the time difference between switch closures at two different positions along the travel of each key.

There are two types of velocity receivers, moving coil and piezoelectric. The former contains a coil supported by springs and a permanently fixed magnet and require no output signal amplifiers. Movement causes the coil to move relative to the magnet, which in turn generates a voltage that is proportional to the velocity of that movement.

Piezoelectric sensor velocity receivers are similar to a piezoelectric accelerometer, except that the output of the device is proportional to the velocity of the transducer. Unlike the moving coil variety, piezoelectric sensors will likely require an amplifier due to the small generated signal.

Water sensor

The Water in Fuel Sensor or WiF sensor indicates the presence of water in the fuel. It is installed in the fuel filter and when the water level in the water separator reaches the warning level, the Wif sends an electrical signal to the ECU or to dashboard (lamp).

The WiF is used especially in the Common Rail engines to avoid the Fuel injector damage.

The WiF sensor uses the difference of electric conductivity through water and diesel fuel by 2 electrodes.

First generation WiF sensors use a potting resin to isolate the electronic circuit, while the latest generation of Wif sensors (the WS3 sensor in Surface-mount technology) are made totally without leakage using an innovative co-moulding process.

The latest generation of WiF sensors have a high resistance to vibrations and to thermal excursion cycles.

The main automotive WiF designer and producer is SMP Poland.

Wavefront sensor

A wavefront sensor is a device for measuring the aberrations of an optical wavefront. Although an amplitude splitting interferometer such as the Michelson interferometer could be called a wavefront sensor, the term is normally applied to instruments that do not require an unaberrated reference beam to interfere with. They are commonly used in adaptive optics systems, lens testing and increasingly in ophthalmology.

There are several types of wavefront sensors, including:

Shack–Hartmann wavefront sensor

Phase-shifting Schlieren technique

Wavefront curvature sensor

Pyramid wavefront sensor

Common-path interferometer

Foucault knife-edge test

Multilateral shearing interferometer

Ronchi tester

Shearing interferometer

Yaw-rate sensor

A yaw-rate sensor is a gyroscopic device that measures a vehicle’s angular velocity around its vertical axis. The angle between the vehicle's heading and vehicle actual movement direction is called slip angle, which is related to the yaw rate.

Acoustic, sound, vibration
Automotive, transportation
Electric, magnetic, radio
Environment, weather,
Flow, fluid velocity
Ionising radiation,
subatomic particles
Navigation instruments
Position, angle,
Optical, light, imaging
Force, density, level
Thermal, heat,
Proximity, presence
Sensor technology


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.