A malfunction, local damage or sudden pipe break of a pipeline system can trigger significant flow variations. As shown in the paper, pressure variations and pipe vibrations are two strongly correlated parameters. A sudden change in the flow velocity and pressure of a pipeline system can induce pipe vibrations. Thus, based on acceleration data, a rapid detection and localization of a possible damage may be carried out by inexpensive, nonintrusive monitoring techniques. To illustrate this approach, an experiment on a single pipe was conducted in the laboratory. Pressure gauges and accelerometers were installed and their correlation was checked during an artificially created transient flow. The experimental findings validated the correlation between the parameters. The interaction between pressure variations and pipe vibrations was also theoretically justified. The developed analytical model explains the connection among flow pressure, velocity, pressure wave propagation and pipe vibration. The proposed method provides a rapid, efficient and practical way to identify and locate sudden failures of a pipeline system and sets firm foundations for the development and implementation of an advanced, new generation Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for continuous health monitoring of pipe networks.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.