MDT Beartooth Pass

SECTOR: Geohazard

Montana, USA


Remote slope stability infrastructure monitoring

In the spring of 2005, a landslide damaged or destroyed parts of 12 miles of the Beartooth Highway, a federally recognized National Scenic Byways All-American Road. Since then, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) conducted significant repairs to the affected areas. However, these efforts did not fully address the underlying stability issues, and slope movement continued to threaten the scenic highway.

The same environmental conditions that create the tremendous natural beauty that entices people to use the highway also pose significant challenges to maintaining stable ground conditions and conducting repairs. The Beartooth Highway passes through three national forests, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, and provides the only access to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. With a maximum elevation of just under 11,000 feet (3,353 meters), it is the highest highway in both Montana and Wyoming. Due to ice and snowfall, the road is normally open only four to five months out of the year, and it is during this short period that all repair work must be completed with an eye to maximizing access to Yellowstone.

These factors led the MDT to take a proactive approach and implement a program to collect ground stability data around the road in order to prevent landslides before they happened rather than wait to repair damage after the fact. They contracted Shannon and Wilson to design and install the system, which would include six high-precision GPS sensors to monitor surface movement and a Measurand ShapeArray SAAV to measure subsurface movement. The sensors were connected to a sensemetrics’ Thread to collect and remotely stream near real-time data to the MDT. The system’s simplicity made it cost-effective to put in place, and the data it produces provides savings by allowing them to intervene before trouble strikes.

  • 1993

    The Beginning

    Measurand is established in Fredericton, New Brunswick
  • 1994

    Bend sensor development

    Measurand develops and patents fiber optic bend and position sensors for the medical and automotive sectors

    U.S. Patent 5,321,257

  • 1995

    Canadian Space Agency

    Receives funding from the CSA to develop sensor technology that ultimately leads to invention of ShapeTape

    U.S. Patent 5,633,494

  • 1999

    Patent on fiber optic sensor

    Measurand receives patent for "Fiber Optic Bending and Positioning Sensor" issued June 29, 1999

    Canadian Patent 2,073,162

  • 2001

    ShapeTape & ShapeHand debut

    Measurand designs and develops innovative motion capture technology

    U.S. Patent 6,127,672, 6,563,107

  • 2002

    Measurand Attends the ICPMG

    First contact with the geotechnical sector at the International Conference on Physical Modelling in Geotechnics (ICPMG)
  • 2004


    Design patent application sent about a new product designed to meet the specific needs of the geotechnical industry

    U.S. Patent 6,127,672, 6,563,107

  • 2005-08


    Measurand debuts ShapeWrap motion capture technology for the film and animation industry

    U.S. Patent 7,296,363

  • 2006

    Malibu installation

    ShapeAccelArray installed for ground monitoring for the first time​ in Malibu, CA

    Canadian Patent 2,472,421

  • 2007


    Suite of instrumentation developed for motion capture within Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines

    U.S. Patent 7,296,363

  • 2011

    SAAScan launched

    Built for rapid deployment and repeated use

    Canadian Patent 2,472,421

  • 2014

    SAAX launched

    Purpose-built for heavy-duty horizontal installation

    Canadian application 2,815,199 & 2,815,195

  • 2017

    SAAV launched

    The only geotechnical instrument with a patented cyclical installation method

    Cyclical Sensor Array, Canadian application 2,815,199 & 2,911,175