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Chapter 6
Efficient Mapping Of Structure And
Azimuthal Anisotropy With Three
Dimensional Shallow Seismic
Refraction Methods
6.1 - Summary
A three dimensional (3D) seismic refraction survey was carried out across a
shear zone.
The data were processed with the generalized reciprocal method (GRM) rather
than with tomographic inversion because of the relatively small volume of data,
the occurrence of large variations in depth to and wavespeeds within the main
refractor and the presence of azimuthal anisotropy.
The results show that there is an increase in the depth of weathering and a
decrease in wavespeed in the sub-weathering associated with the shear zone.
Although the shear zone is generally considered to be a two dimensional (2D)
feature, the significant lateral variations in both depths to and wavespeeds within
the refractor in the cross-line direction indicate that it is best treated as a 3D
target. These variations are not predictable on the basis of a 2D profile recorded
The amplitudes of the refracted signals are approximately proportional to the
ratio of the specific acoustic impedances between the upper layer and the
refractor and they provide a convenient and detailed measure of apparent
azimuthal anisotropy or rock fabric. The amplitudes also contain additional
useful geological information, although some of the cross-line amplitudes could
not be completely explained.
Qualitative measures of azimuthal anisotropy are obtained from the wavespeeds
and the time-depths computed from the traveltime data with the GRM algorithms
and from the amplitudes. These three methods give similar consistent results,
with the direction of the greater wavespeed being approximately parallel to the
direction of the dominant geological strike. Furthermore, all three methods show
that the direction of the greater wavespeed is approximately orthogonal to the
direction of the dominant geological strike in one region adjacent to the shear
The in-line results show that both accurate refractor depths and wavespeeds can
be computed with moderate cross-line offsets, say less than 20 m, of shot points.
These results demonstrate that swath shooting with a number of parallel
recording lines would be adequate for 3D surveys over targets such as highways,
damsites and pipelines. Only a modest increase in shot points over the
requirements for the normal 2D program would be required in the cross-line
direction for measuring azimuthal anisotropy and rock fabric with amplitudes.
6.2 - Introduction
In the last two decades, three dimensional (3D) seismic reflection methods have
revolutionized the exploration for, and production of petroleum resources. The
improved images of the subsurface geology are a result of the recognition that
most geological targets are in fact three dimensional, and that it is essential to
employ spatial sampling densities and processing methods which recognize and
accommodate this reality. It is now generally accepted that in many cases, two
dimensional (2D) seismic reflection methods give an incorrect rather than an
incomplete picture of the sub-surface (Nestvold, 1992).
By contrast, 3D refraction methods (Zelt, 1998; Bennett, 1999; Deen et al, 2000)
are not very common. However, there are compelling reasons for the expedient
development of 3D shallow refraction methods for routine use in geotechnical,
environmental and groundwater applications.
Geological structures and the corresponding depths to and wavespeeds within
bedrock, can show as much variation in the cross-line direction as in the in-line
direction. In the vast majority of near-surface studies, such variations are
There is a need to address azimuthal anisotropy of wavespeeds. Anisotropy can
be caused by lamination, foliation or by the preferred orientation of joints and
cracks within the refractor, and it is another important parameter for assessing
rock strength for rippability and foundation design. However, its most important
near-surface application may be in the determination of fracture porosity in
crystalline rocks for the development of groundwater supplies for domestic and
irrigation purposes, in studies of contaminant transport especially of radioactive
wastes (Barker, 1991), the stability of rock slopes and seepage from dams, the
construction of underground rock cavities for storing water, gas, etc, and the
construction of tunnels.
The relationship between anisotropy and crack parameters has been the subject
of considerable research in the past (Crampin et al, 1980; Thomsen, 1995).
Nevertheless, there are no established approaches for the routine mapping of
these parameters with shallow geotechnical or environmental targets, although
radial surveys to measure azimuthal anisotropy (Bamford and Nunn, 1979; Leslie
and Lawton, 1999) represent the first steps in that direction.
6.3 - Data Processing With The GRM
This study describes the results of a 3D shallow seismic refraction survey
recorded some time ago across a shear zone at Mt Bulga in southeastern
Australia. The data are processed with a traditional approach using the
generalized reciprocal method (GRM) (Palmer, 1980; Palmer1986), rather than
with tomographic inversion for the following reasons.
The wavespeeds in the refractor range from less than 2000 m/s in the shear
zone to more than 5000 m/s in the adjacent rocks. Recent case histories (Lanz
et al, 1998), demonstrate that current tomographic inversion methods cannot yet
reliably resolve wavespeeds in the main refractor, even though over 90% of the
traveltimes originated from the refractor. In those cases where stable inversion
has been achieved, the variations in wavespeeds are generally less than about
5% (Zelt, 1998).
The volume of data is low in contrast to that generally considered desirable for
effective tomographic inversion. As a comparison, the approximately 2000
traveltimes for 120 detector positions used in this study are much less than the
more than 50,000 traveltimes for 29 detector positions used in the tomographic
analysis of Zelt and Barton, (1998). For most routine shallow refraction
investigations, the costs of recording at least an order of magnitude of additional
shot points can be prohibitive.
Model studies and case histories (Palmer, 1980; Palmer, 1991) demonstrate that
the GRM can resolve large variations in the depths to and wavespeeds within
refractors using considerably smaller data volumes than is the case with most
tomography programs.
Azimuthal anisotropy is rarely accommodated with most tomography programs.
Isotropy is normally assumed in order to employ as many traveltimes from as
many directions as possible in the inversion process. In addition, the traveltime
differences due to anisotropy are quite small, and are often within the accepted
range for the residuals of inversion.
In this study, the amplitudes of the refracted head waves are used to map
anisotropy. Previous studies have shown that the head coefficient, the
parameter which controls the amplitude of the refracted signal, is approximately
proportional to the ratio of the specific acoustic impedances of the overburden
and the refractor (Palmer, 2001b; chapter 5). However, the head wave
amplitudes are generally dominated by the rapid variation due to geometric
spreading. Another study (Palmer, 2001a; chapter 3), demonstrates that the
effects of geometrical spreading and dipping interfaces can be accommodated
with either the multiplication of the amplitudes of the forward and reverse traces,
or by the convolution of those traces. In this study, the ratios of the amplitude
products for pairs of shot points with varying azimuths are used as a qualitative
measure of azimuthal anisotropy.
6.4 - Survey Details
The data used in this study were acquired in approximately the same location as
a 2D set of data described previously (Palmer, 2001a; chapter 3). The survey
was carried out shortly after the area had undergone complete clearing of the
native vegetation and subsequent planting of tube stock for a pine plantation. As
a result, the survey pegs which marked out the exploration grid, had been
removed, and so the precise relationship between the two surveys is not known.
However, the cross-line numbers in this study correlate approximately with the
station numbers on the 2D profile.
Figure 6.1: Plan of in-line and cross-line geophones and shot points. Shots 1 to
15 are shown as bold symbols and were recorded with in-lines 17 and 21. Shots
16 to 42 are shown as open symbols and were recorded with cross-lines 45 to
The data were recorded with a 48 trace seismic system using a roll switch and
single 40 Hz detectors. Shot holes were drilled to depths of between 1 and 2.5 m
with a small trailer mounted drill rig. Charge sizes were between 1 and 3 kg of a
high velocity seismic explosive.
Initially, two parallel lines 20 m apart, with each consisting of 24 geophones at a
5 m spacing were set out. These in-lines were located approximately either side
of the earlier 2D profile. Five shot points, nominally 60 m apart, were located
along each line, while another four oblique shot points offset 60 m from the end
of each line of geophones in the in-line direction and offset 60 m in the cross-line
direction were also recorded, making a total of fourteen shots.
A second series of seven parallel cross-lines which were 20 m apart, and each of
which consisted of twelve geophones at a 5 m separation were then set out.
There were four shot points on each cross-line and the shots were nominally 60
m apart. These lines were recorded in groups of four by simply rolling through
from one end to the other. A total of twenty seven shots were recorded in the
cross-line directions.
Figure 6.1 is a plan of the two geophone arrangements and shot point locations.
6.5 - Analysis of the In-line Traveltime Data
The traveltimes were hand picked from the field monitors, and standard
corrections for the uphole time and the system delay in the analogue
components were applied. The previous 2D study (chapter 3; Palmer, 2001a),
showed that a three layer model was applicable. It consists of a thin surface
layer of friable soil with a wavespeed of about 400 m/s, a thicker layer of
weathered material with a wavespeed of approximately 700 m/s, and a main
refractor with an irregular interface with wavespeeds between approximately
2000 m/s and 5000 m/s.
The traveltime data for in-line 21 for all fourteen shots are shown in Figure 6.2.
The graphs for the shot points which are offset by 60 m from the geophone
spreads in the in-line direction and which are located along cross-lines 33 and
81, namely shots 1 to 4 and 8 to 11, all show arrivals which originate from the
main refractor. The graphs in the forward and reverse directions appear to be
essentially parallel, but in fact gradually converge. Also, there is an unresolved
inconsistency in traveltimes between stations 45 and 49, which is related to very
low amplitude arrivals on the shot records.
Figure 6.2: Traveltime data recorded on in-line 21 with in-line, adjacent and
oblique shot points. In general, the graphs gradually converge in each direction
of recording. The inconsistencies in the reverse traveltimes can be seen
between cross-lines 45 and 49.
Figure 6.3 shows the refractor wavespeed analysis function t
, computed with
equation 6.1, using a 5 m XY value, for four shot pairs. They are shots 2 and 9
which are collinear with the detectors, shots 3 and 10 which are collinear with the
adjacent parallel line of detectors on in-line 17, shots 1 and 11 which form a
northwest-southeast shooting orientation, and shots 4 and 8 which form a
northeast-southwest shooting orientation.
Figure 6.3: Refractor wavespeed analysis function computed for the in-line,
adjacent and oblique shot pairs. The wavespeeds for the oblique shot pairs have
been corrected with the cosine of 30 degrees which is the angle between in-line
21 and the line joining the shot points.
= (t
- t
+ t
)/ 2 (6.1)
where t
is the traveltime from the forward shot point to the reverse shot
point, and it is a constant for a given shot pair and a set of collinear detectors.
The wavespeed in the refractor along in-line 21, is obtained from the reciprocal of
the gradient of t
for the shot pairs which are collinear with the detectors, namely
shots 2 and 9. Between cross-lines 45 and 50, the wavespeed is not well
determined because of the unresolved inconsistency in the traveltimes
mentioned previously, but it appears to be greater than 4000 m/s. The value of
5000 m/s shown in Figure 6.3 is taken from the earlier adjacent 2D results
previously referenced.
The wavespeed is 1850 m/s between cross-lines 50 and 60.
Between cross-lines 60 and 69, the wavespeed is 3930 m/s. However, this
region can be further separated into an interval between cross-lines 60 and 64
with a wavespeed of approximately 5000 m/s followed by an interval between
cross-lines 64 and 69 with a wavespeed of approximately 3000 m/s. This
separation is consistent with the results of the earlier 2D survey.
The refractor wavespeeds computed with shots 3 and 10 which are located along
the adjacent in-line 17, are essentially the same as those determined above.
However, the wavespeeds computed with the northeast-southwest and
northwest-southeast oblique shot points are higher mainly because of the angle
of about 30 degrees between the line of the detectors and the line joining the two
shot points. The wavespeeds between cross-lines 50 and 60 of the oblique
shots shown in Figure 6.3 are the product of the measured values and the cosine
of 30 degrees. They show that the corrected wavespeeds are higher in the
northeast-southwest direction than in the northwest-southeast direction.
There is some question about the validity of the wavespeeds derived from the
oblique shot pairs, because no account has been taken of the fact that most of
the detectors are not collinear with the two shot points, as is assumed with
equation 6.1. For these shot pairs, the reciprocal time increases as the offset of
the geophone from the line joining the shot points increases. Nevertheless,
these results have been included, because they are consistent with other results
to be described below.
Figure 6.4: Time-depths computed for the in-line, adjacent and oblique shot
pairs. The reciprocal times for the oblique shots have been adjusted so that the
time-depths are the same between cross-lines 45 and 49, in order to emphasize
the systematic divergence from the in-line values.
Figure 6.4 shows the time-depths computed with equation 6.2 using a 5 m XY
value, for the four shot pairs used in Figure 6.3. The reciprocal time for the in-
line shots 2 and 9 was computed with equation 33 of Palmer (1980). The
reciprocal times for the other shot pairs could not be derived as conveniently, and
they have been adjusted until the differences in the time-depths between cross-
lines 45 and 49 were minimized. This facilitates the recognition of the systematic
divergence of the time-depths for the oblique shot pairs from the collinear values.
time-depth = (t
+ t
- t
)/2. (6.2)
The increase in the time-depths between cross-lines 50 and 60 corresponds to
the region in the refractor with the low wavespeed.
The systematic divergence of the time-depths computed with the oblique shot
pairs from cross-line 49 to cross-line 69, can be employed as a qualitative
measure of azimuthal anisotropy in the following way.
The time-depths t
, are related to the depths z
, with equation 6.3,
= t
/ DCF (6.3)
where the DCF, the depth conversion factor relating the time-depth and the
depth, is given by:
/ (V
- V

DCF = V / cos i (6.5)
where V is the average wavespeed above the refractor and
sin i = V / V
It is reasonable to assume that the point of critical refraction below each station is
much the same whether the energy propagating in the refractor is traveling in the
northeast-southwest direction or the northwest-southeast direction. This implies
that the depth to the refractor is the same irrespective of the direction of
measurement. Therefore, any variations in the time-depth at each station will be
related to variations in the DCF through equation 6.3.
Figure 6.5: The ratio of the time-depths computed with shots 4 and 8 in the
northeast-southwest direction and shots 1 and 11 in the northwest-southeast
The time-depths for the oblique shots were then re-adjusted in the following
manner. In-line 21 intersects the line joining shots 1 and 11 at cross-line 53 and
the line joining shots 4 and 8 at cross-line 61. The time-depths for the oblique
shots at these points were computed from the in-line depths with equation 3
using the refractor wavespeeds appropriate to each direction as shown in Figure
6.3. The reciprocal times for the oblique shots were then adjusted until the
depths at the intersections were the same as those just computed. Finally, the
ratios of the time-depths in the two oblique directions were computed and they
are presented in Figure 6.5.
As with the wavespeed analysis function in Figure 6.3, this method of detecting
azimuthal anisotropy makes no allowances for the variations in reciprocal time for
the detectors which are not collinear with the shot points. The reciprocal time
subtracted in equation 6.2 should be increased for the detectors offset from the
line joining the shot points, in order to take into account the extra path length in
the refractor. The use of a constant reciprocal time should increase the
computed time-depths at the offset detectors and as a result, the time-depth
profile should appear to be flattened. However, no such flattening is obvious in
Figure 6.4.
Despite these reservations, the results are presented because they are
consistent with those determined with other approaches. In particular, the region
between cross-lines 45 and 49 shows values less than one, while the remainder
shows values greater than one. These results are qualitatively similar to those
derived from amplitude ratios in Figure 6.8 below and from a comparison of the
in-line and cross-line wavespeeds.
These results also demonstrate the benefits of including an analysis of the
residuals as a function of azimuth with tomographic methods. The differences in
traveltimes between the offset shots in Figure 6.2 show little variation about the
mean and as a result, the time-depths also show the same small variations. For
example, the variations about a zero mean difference in the time-depths in Figure
6.4 are less than a few milliseconds. Although such variations are within the
acceptable ranges of residuals for most tomographic approaches, nevertheless,
there may still be a systematic correlation with azimuth and therefore an
indication of azimuthal anisotropy.
Figure 6.6 shows the approximate depths to the refractor obtained with equation
Figure 6.6: Depths to the main refractor computed with an average wavespeed
of 700 m/s in the upper two layers.
6.6 - Analysis of the In-line Amplitude Data
The amplitudes of the first arrivals were hand picked from the trace values with a
utility in Visual_SUNT, a seismic reflection processing software package. A
correction was applied for geometric spreading using a reciprocal of the distance
cubed expression, which previous studies had indicated was appropriate for this
site (Palmer, 2001a; chapter 3). The corrected amplitudes for the four pairs of
shots described above, were then multiplied.
Figure 6.7 shows the amplitude products for shots 2 and 9 which are colinear on
in-line 21. They show low values between cross-lines 45 and 49, which
correspond with the wavespeed of 5000 m/s, higher values between cross-lines
50 and 62, which correspond with the wavespeed of 1850 m/s, and lower values
between cross-lines 63 and 69 which correspond with the wavespeed of 3930
m/s. The amplitudes in this last region gradually increase towards cross-line 69,
and correspond with the decrease in wavespeed when the region is further sub-
divided into two regions.
Figure 6.7: Amplitude products corrected for geometric spreading for shots 2
and 9.
These results are consistent with previous studies which demonstrate that the
amplitude product is approximately proportional to the square of the ratio of the
specific acoustic impedances of the overburden and the refractor (chapter 5;
Palmer, 2001b). Since the wavespeeds in the layers above the main refractor
exhibit little lateral variation in the in-line direction, the amplitudes are essentially
a function of the wavespeeds and densities in the refractor.
The amplitudes of the other shot pairs show the same general pattern, as well as
the detailed features such as the higher values at cross-lines 54, 56, 59 and 61
on line 17. These variations can be attributed to changes in the coupling of the
detectors, or near-surface changes in the wavespeeds.
Figure 6.8: An apparent anisotropy factor obtained from the square root of the
ratio of the corrected amplitudes for the two pairs of oblique shots.
Figure 6.8 shows the square root of the ratio of the amplitudes obtained with
shots 4 and 8 in the northeast-southwest direction to the amplitudes obtained
with shots 1 and 11 in the northwest-southeast direction. This parameter should
reflect a relative anisotropy factor, since it is not possible to provide an absolute
scale, because as yet, there is no method for compensating for the different
energy levels and coupling of each shot. However, an approximate scaling factor
was obtained from the ratio of the wavespeeds in the different directions for the
region with the low wavespeeds between cross-lines 50 and 62 in Figure 6.3.
An examination of the cross-line data described below, shows that in general the
wavespeeds are higher in the cross-line direction, that is along the dominant
geological strike, than in the in-line direction. However, the exception is the
region between cross-lines 45 and 49 where the reverse applies. The fact that
Figure 6.8 is consistent with this model provides confidence in the validity of the
relative anisotropy factor.
6.7 - Analysis of the Cross-line Traveltime Data
The traveltime data recorded in the cross-line direction show that the same three
layer model is applicable in the cross-line direction as for the in-line direction.
However the wavespeeds in the second layer show more variation and range
from 540 m/s on cross-line 57 to more than 1000 m/s on cross-lines 45 and 69.
Figure 6.9 summarizes the traveltime data for the shot points at the ends of each
The refractor wavespeed analysis function for each cross-line is shown in Figure
6.10. In general the pattern is similar to that determined for the in-line directions,
namely a zone of low wavespeeds between cross-lines 49 and 61, and zones of
higher wavespeeds on cross-lines 45, 65 and 69.
Figure 6.9: Stacked traveltimes for the shot points at each end of the cross-
On cross-line 45, the wavespeed is 3380 m/s, while on cross-line 49, there is a
lateral change from that value to 2000 m/s. Furthermore, there is a
corresponding change in the wavespeeds of the second layer shown in Figure
6.9. The 3380 m/s wavespeed correlates with the second layer values of 1020
m/s to 1200 m/s, while the 2000 m/s on cross-line 49 correlates with a value of
810 m/s for the second layer. This correlation between the wavespeeds in
second layer and main refractor on cross-line 49 together with the change in
refractor wavespeeds on the two in-line profiles at cross-line 50 are consistent
with a lateral change in wavespeed occurring on cross-line 49. The significance
of this result is that a major change in refractor wavespeed has been resolved
along cross-line 49, even though the contact between the two zones is probably
not orthogonal to cross-line 49. Theoretical studies (Sjogren, 1984, p168-173)
have predicted that there should be errors in the determination of accurate
refractor wavespeeds.
The lateral change in the wavespeed on cross-line 49 also provides an
explanation for the inconsistent traveltimes obtained on the in-line profiles with
the shot points on cross-line 81. The seismic trace consists of a low amplitude
early arrival from the high wavespeed zone, followed by the high amplitude later
arrival from the adjacent low wavespeed zone. It is possible that one of these
arrivals may be a side swipe.
The wavespeed of 3380 m/s determined in the cross-line direction is significantly
less than the value of about 5000 m/s determined previously with the 2D profile
in the in-line direction. It contrasts with the remainder of the survey area, in
which the wavespeeds are greater in the cross-line direction. However it is
consistent with qualitative measures of azimuthal anisotropy obtained with time-
depth ratios in Figure 6.5 and with amplitude ratios in Figure 6.8.
The wavespeed of 2000 m/s between cross-lines 53 and 61 is 7.5% larger than
the value of 1850 m/s measured in the in-line direction.
On cross-lines 65 and 69, the wavespeed is 6500 m/s between in-lines 19 and
21 and 2000 m/s to 2100 m/s elsewhere. Although the accuracy of the
wavespeed in this center interval is not high because it is measured over a
limited number of points, it is still higher than the in-line value of 3930 m/s
determined between cross-lines 60 and 69.
Figure 6.10: Stacked wavespeed analysis function for the offset shots for cross-
lines 45 to 69.
These results are a compelling demonstration that there can be important 3D
effects even with a nominally 2D geological structure. The lateral change in
wavespeeds on cross-line 49 generates inconsistent arrivals on the in-line data
which are more readily explained with the cross-line data. In addition, the rock
fabric in the region between cross-lines 45 and 49, as measured with the
apparent anisotropy factor, is approximately orthogonal to the dominant
geological strike direction and to the fabric in the remaining regions of the
refractor. One geological interpretation is that this region has undergone rotation
during the formation of the shear zone.
Figure 6.11: Isometric view of the cross-line time-depths.
Figure 6.11 is an isometric view of the cross-line time-depths and shows that the
variations in the cross-line direction can be considerable even for a nominally 2D
structure with a line orientation which attempted to parallel the dominant strike
6.8 - The Cross-line Amplitude Data
The cross-lines were recorded in groups of four with the shots being collinear
with either the second or third line in the group. The amplitudes for the seven
cross-lines shown in Figure 6.12, were obtained by combining the corrected
amplitude products for each line using the offset shot pairs for that line. As there
was usually some variation in the energy levels from each shot due to shot hole
depth or local geological conditions affecting coupling of the energy, it was
necessary to scale each set of amplitudes to a common level. This was
achieved by determining an average scaling factor between adjacent lines using
the two shot pairs collinear with those two lines.
Figure 6.12: Isometric view of the cross-line amplitude products corrected for
geometric spreading.
The amplitude products corrected for geometric spreading are shown in Figure
6.12. In general, the amplitudes reflect the wavespeeds in the refractor. The low
wavespeeds between cross-lines 53 and 61 produce an increase in the
amplitudes, while the higher wavespeeds between cross-lines 45 and 49 and on
cross-line 65 produce lower amplitudes. However, there are a number of
departures from this trend where a detailed correlation is made.
On cross-line 45, there is a gradual increase in amplitude from in-line 13 to in-line
25, which is consistent with an increase in the wavespeed in the overlaying layer
from 1020 m/s to 1200 m/s. On cross-line 49, the decrease in wavespeed in the
refractor from 3380 m/s to 2000 m/s is matched with a decrease in the
wavespeed in the overlaying layer from 1020 m/s to 810 m/s, resulting in only a
minor increase in amplitudes.
There is no obvious explanation for the decrease in amplitudes at each end of
cross-lines 53 to 61. While the higher amplitudes in the center of each line
correlate with the low refractor wavespeeds, there is little evidence for any
significant variation in wavespeeds in the cross-line direction.
Variations in topography and density might provide an explanation. The
topography along the in-lines 17 and 21 is lower than that of the surrounding
survey area and there is an ephemeral creek located across the southeastern
corner. Accordingly, the edges of the survey area may have lower moisture
levels and therefore lower densities in the second layer. Furthermore, no
account has been taken of shear wavespeeds, which also affect the head
The gradual increase in amplitudes on cross-lines 53 to 61 along in-line 13
correlates with an overall increase of wavespeeds in the second layer from about
600 m/s to about 800 m/s. However, these values are much the same as the in-
line values of about 700 m/s, and so do not provide a complete explanation for
the decrease in amplitudes at each end of cross-lines 53 to 61.
The locally high values on cross-lines 55 and 61 correlate with similar peaks on
the in-line results, suggesting a geological source, rather than variations in
geophone coupling.
It is also difficult to fully explain the amplitudes on cross-lines 65 and 69 because
they do not readily correlate with wavespeeds or the in-line results. The high
amplitudes between in-lines 21 and 24 correlate with low refractor wavespeeds
shown in Figure 6.9, but they are not matched with similar amplitudes for the low
wavespeeds between in-lines 13 and 17. Furthermore, the high wavespeed
region between in-lines 17 and 21, exhibits both low but more commonly high
Figure 6.13: Summary of wavespeeds and interpreted faults plotted over the
contours of the time-depths in milliseconds. The bold arrows indicate the
directions of the higher wavespeeds.
Despite these apparent inconsistencies, it is possible that the amplitudes are still
providing a viable model of the wavespeeds in the refractor. The low
wavespeeds which are implied by the high amplitudes, correlate with the
separation of the region between cross-lines 60 and 69 into two intervals with
wavespeed of approximately 5000 m/s and 3000 m/s, and with a wavespeed of
2600 m/s detected on the earlier 2D data between cross-lines 67 and 73.
Figure 6.13 is a summary of the wavespeeds in the in-line and cross-line
directions plotted over a contour map of the time-depths. The boundaries of the
regions with different wavespeeds are interpreted as faults. An additional fault
along in-line 17 might also be inferred on the basis of the cross-line amplitudes.
Although this discussion has focused on the variations in amplitudes due to
variations in wavespeeds, it is recognized that other factors, such as inelastic
attenuation, can affect amplitudes. The inelastic attenuation in the refractor at
each detector for a given shot pair, is reduced to a constant amount with the
amplitude product or convolution and therefore, it is not a significant factor. The
inelastic attenuation in the overburden is not compensated with the amplitude
product, and it may be an important factor in lossy media. However, in this case
history, the travel path in the overburden is less than two times the dominant
wavelength of the seismic energy (700 m/s / 35 Hz), and is considered to be a
second order effect.
6.9 - Discussion and Conclusions
The results of this study are a convincing demonstration of the benefits of 3D
shallow refraction methods. Although the shear zone at Mt Bulga is considered
to be a 2D structure, the significant spatial variations in depths, wavespeeds and
azimuthal anisotropy demonstrate that it is best viewed as a 3D target.
The depths to the refractor show considerable variation in the cross-line direction
as well as in the in-line direction. There is a general increase in depths which is
associated with the lower wavespeeds of 1850 m/s to 2000 m/s between cross-
lines 49 and 61. However, the increase in depths between in-lines 20 and 25 on
cross-line 49 could not be confidently predicted on the basis of the results from
either the earlier 2D profile or the two in-line profiles in this study. Similarly, the
lateral variations in wavespeeds on cross-lines 65 and 69 also require the
additional coverage in the cross-line direction to be detected and resolved.
In general, the amplitudes correlate with the ratio of the wavespeeds between the
refractor and the layer above. However, there are a number of anomalies in the
cross-line results for which as yet there are no obvious explanations. The
geology of the survey area is quite complex and it is probable that drilling or
excavation would be required to obtain a complete explanation of the observed
The amplitude ratios provide a convenient approach to determining azimuthal
anisotropy. The qualitative correlation between the measures of azimuthal
anisotropy obtained with wavespeeds, time-depths and amplitude ratios provides
confidence in the validity of the results. This is especially the case with the
region between cross-line 45 and 49 where the direction of the maximum
wavespeed is approximately orthogonal to that for the remainder of the survey
area and to the dominant geological strike direction.
A major benefit of using amplitudes as a measure of the wavespeeds and
therefore anisotropy, is that a value can be determined at each detector, whereas
several collinear detectors are usually required if traveltimes are employed. In
addition, it is probable that the amplitudes may be a more sensitive measure of
anisotropy than traveltimes.
There were a number of difficulties in combining some of the in-line and cross-
line amplitude results. This suggests that data be recorded in a single pass
using several parallel lines of detectors, rather than with a number separate
recording setups.
The results of this study also show that shots laterally offset by up to 20 m still
produce results similar to the in-line shots. Therefore, a single line of shot points
together with a number of parallel recording lines, would be efficacious for
recording 3D refraction data along narrow swaths. A minimum of three parallel
lines is suggested, while five or more would give better cross-line determinations
of wavespeeds with the traveltime data.
Such a recording program would be suitable for many types of geotechnical
investigations as for example with highways and damsites, which require only
relatively limited coverage in the cross-line direction. Accordingly, the benefits of
the additional sampling in the cross-line direction can be achieved without a
commensurate increase in the number of shot points. Typically, an increase of
about 100% over an equivalent 2D program may be sufficient.
The refractor mapped in this study has large spatial variations in depths,
wavespeeds and azimuthal anisotropy and therefore it provides a searching test
of any approach seeking to resolve each of these parameters. The results of this
study demonstrate that simple and efficient 3D refraction methods using the
GRM can provide more useful geological interpretations than would be the case
with even detailed 2D approaches.
6.10 - References
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