Vibration monitoring in such cases can serve to determine vibration levels, and provide insight into whether, in the wake of a particularly severe event and/or prolonged exposure to vibrations, a given structure has deteriorated, and what the nature of such deterioration is. The most commonly used approach involves dynamic investigations requiring thorough knowledge as to how the structure behaves. Such investigations entail the identification of parameters and their characteristic modal forms, frequencies, and damping, whose variations are monitored over time.
Large-scale structures such as bridges, levees, high-rises, and power plants may be subjected to unusually severe environmental conditions, in terms of induced vibrations that can cause structural damage or the like; or it could also be that ongoing operations in such structures will have to be suspended for safety reasons. There are external events that might come into play, such as seismic events, events caused by wind, especially in structures like suspension bridges and high-rises; there could be waves affecting bridges, or excessive road traffic, which over time can produce structural damage.