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Multichannel analysis of

surface waves to map bedrock

Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.

I n many geologic settings, topo- ground mines, and delineating frac-

graphic variations and discontinuities ture systems. Cross-sections generated
in the surface of bedrock can influence in this manner contain information
the transport and eventual fate of con- about the horizontal and vertical con-
taminants introduced at or near the tinuity of materials as shallow as a few
ground surface. Determining the inches down to depths of more than
nature and location of anomalous 300 ft in some settings.
bedrock can be an essential compo- Subsidence-prone areas are likely
nent of hydrologic characterization. targets for this type of imaging. De-
Preliminary analysis of the hydrologic creases in the shear-wave velocity
characteristics of a site in Olathe, related to decreases in compaction or
Kansas, U.S., based primarily on bore- localized increases in shear-wave
hole data alone, suggested that a clus- velocity likely associated with the ten-
ter of fractures and/or an unmapped sion dome surrounding subsurface
buried stream channel may influence cavities appear to be key indicators of
fluid movement along the drill- either active subsidence or areas sus-
defined bedrock surface. Accurate ceptible to roof collapse. In situations
mapping of the bedrock surface at where subsidence is active, a dramatic
depths ranging from 6 ft to 23 ft and drop in shear-wave velocity seems
identification of potential fracture characteristic of areas where earth
zones within bedrock were achieved Figure 1. Site map, Olathe, materials have begun subsiding into
at this site by integration of the shear- Kansas, U.S. voids. This low-velocity zone produces
wave velocity field, calculated using a unique signature in the shear-wave
the multichannel analysis of surface Continuous acquisition of multi- velocity field. Since the shear-wave
waves (MASW) method, with a sur- channel surface-wave data along lin- velocity of earth materials can change
gical drilling program. ear transects has recently shown great when the strain on those materials
Surface waves appearing on mul- promise in detecting shallow voids becomes large, it is reasonable to
tichannel seismic data designed to and tunnels, mapping the bedrock sur- suggest that load-bearing roof rock
image environmental, engineering, face, locating remnants of under- above mines or dissolution voids may
and groundwater targets have tradi-
tionally been viewed as noise. Arecent
development incorporating concepts
from spectral analysis of surface waves
(SASW) developed for civil engineer-
ing applications with multitrace seis-
mic reflection methods shows great
potential for detecting and in some
cases delineating anomalous subsur-
face materials. Extending the common
use of surface-wave analysis tech- a) b) c)
niques from estimating 1-D shear-
wave velocities to detection and/or Figure 2. Shot gathers of geophones with spikes (a), baseplates (b), or base-
imaging required a laterally continu- plates with weights (c).
ous approach to data acquisition and
processing. Integrating the MASW
method with CMP-style data acquisi-
tion permits generation of a laterally
continuous 2-D cross-section of the
shear-wave velocity field. The MASW
method, as used here, requires mini-
mal processing and is relatively insen-
sitive to cultural interference. Mating
MASW with the redundant sampling
approach used in CMP data acquisi-
tion provides a noninvasive method of
a) b)
detecting horizontal and/or vertical
variations in near-surface material Figure 3. Dispersion curves (a) extracted from Figure 2 and inverted S-wave
properties. velocities (b) based on the dispersion curves.
experience elevated shear-wave veloc-
ities due to loading between pillars, or,
in the case of voids, loading between
supporting sidewalls. The key to
exploiting surface waves as a site
characterization tool resides in their
sensitivity to shear-wave velocity,
compressional-wave velocity, den-
sity, and layering of the half-space.
Several key characteristics of sur-
face waves and surface-wave imaging
make application of this technique a)
possible in areas and at sites where
other geophysical tools have failed or
provided inadequate or questionable
results. First and probably foremost is
the ease with which surface waves can
be generated. The relative high-ampli-
tude nature of surface waves (in com-
parison to body waves) makes their
application in areas with elevated lev-
els of mechanical/acoustic noise pos-
sible. A half-space is all that is
necessary to propagate surface waves.
Surface-wave propagation does not
require the velocity to increase with
depth and/or a contrast at a bound-
ary (i.e., velocity, density, or combi-
nation [acoustic impedance]).
Conductivity of soils, electrical noise,
conductive structures, and buried
utilities all represent significant chal-
lenges to electrical or EM methods.
These have little or no impact on the
generation or propagation and gener-
ally no influence on the processing or
interpretation of surface-wave data.
This flexibility in acquisition and
insensitivity to environmental noise
allow successful use of shear-wave
velocity profiling in areas where other c)
geophysical methods are limited.
The Olathe case study discussed
here was designed to target an area
near the southeast corner of a build-
ing used to manufacture electronic
components (Figure 1). Industrial flu-
ids essential to the manufacturing
process were routinely used and
stored in and around this building. If
these fluids were to leak from con-
tainment vessels or plumbing, a
detailed transport and fate model
would be imperative to rapid isola-
tion and extraction of these haz- d)
ardous fluids. This is a scenario not
Figure 4. S-wave velocity contours at the Olathe, Kansas, site, along line (a)
unlike thousands currently under
1, (b) 2, (c) 3, and (d) 4.
investigation around the country. For
the study described here, two sets of were selected to optimize the imag- were the primary objective of this
parallel intersecting profile lines were ing of near-surface unconsolidated survey.
located as near the building as prac- materials above bedrock, the bedrock
tical and in close proximity to exist- surface, and several feet into bedrock. Data acquisition. Data were acquired
ing borings. Existing borings and Depths of interest ranged from about along two pairs of intersecting orthog-
monitor wells were drilled and com- 2 ft to 35 ft below the ground surface. onal lines (Figure 1). Standard CMP
pleted to define bedrock and/or to Improving the bedrock surface map roll-along techniques were used to
monitor groundwater. Acquisition and delineating any potential contam- record nominal 48-channel shot
parameters and geometry for MASW inant pathways on or into bedrock records every 4 ft along the entire

a) b) c)
Figure 5. Depth-to-bedrock contour map based on (a) drilling alone, (b) seismic data alone, and (c) a combination of
both drilling and seismic data.
expanse of each line. The asphalt sur- uous recording techniques, and real- across line 1 were consistent. Disper-
face covering most of the site necessi- time data processing. sive ground roll possessed an opti-
tated the outfitting of the geophones mum bandwidth for investigating
with metal baseplates. About half of Data processing. Each 48-trace shot depths from about 4 ft and 30 ft below
line 3 was in a grassy area where tra- gather was recorded so all live ground surface across the entire pro-
ditional spikes were used to couple receivers were within the optimum file.
the geophones. A 60-channel Geomet- offset window for sampling the sub- Bedrock on this line was confirmed
rics StrataView seismograph recorded surface materials between 2 ft and 50 between 10 ft and 15 ft below ground
and vertically stacked four impacts of ft below ground surface with surface surface by drilling. From contoured
a 12-lb hammer on a 1 ft2 plate at each waves. Multichannel records were shear-wave velocities the surface of
shot station. Single 4.5-Hz Geospace analyzed with SurfSeis (a proprietary bedrock appears relatively smooth
GS11D geophones spaced 2 ft apart software package of the Kansas with a pronounced localized velocity
along the profile lines responded to Geological Survey), which facilitates high in bedrock around station 1065
frequencies from 8 Hz to 60 Hz (well use of MASW with continuous profil- (Figure 4a). Based on the elevated
within the requirements of this sur- ing techniques. Each shot gather gen- shear-wave velocities in this zone, this
vey). Source-to-nearest-receiver offsets erated one dispersion curve (Figure anomaly likely signifies an increased
were nominally 8 ft, making source-to- 3). Care was taken to ensure the spec- shear modulus, correlating to harder
farthest-receiver offset around 100 ft. tral properties of the t-x data (shot or less fractured rock. Local outcrop
This recording geometry and fre- gathers) were consistent with the max- studies routinely encountered shale
quency range provided the optimum imum and minimum f-vc values (vc is overlaying fractured limestone units
spread and data characteristics for phase velocities of surface waves) con- composed of competent blocks that
examining earth materials at this site tained in the dispersion curve. Each range from a few feet to hundreds of
between about 3 ft and 50 ft of depth. dispersion curve was individually feet in horizontal extent separated by
Recording acoustic data on asphalt inverted into an x-vs trace. Gathering fracture systems. This higher-velocity
or cement surfaces generally comes all x-vs traces into shot station sequen- zone is likely to be a large block of
with coupling problems, limited tial order results in a 2-D grid of the limestone bounded by fracture-sepa-
amounts of vertically propagating shear-wave velocity field. The shear- rated smaller blocks. Identification of
body waves, and complex high-fre- wave velocity field generated in this individual limestone blocks is pre-
quency trapped and guided waves. fashion does smear to a limited cluded by smearing that is due to the
Many studies have shown that extent velocity anomalies and requires size of the receiver spread. When we
receiver-ground coupling is critical for an understanding of the overall reso- contrast the southern and northern
high-resolution body-wave surveys. lution to interpret accurately. halves of this profile, bedrock mater-
Maximizing frequency response and ial on the south appears to have the
recorded body waves normally Interpretation. Two-dimensional higher average shear-wave velocity.
requires longer spikes, well seated into cross-sections derived as part of this This could be related to either changes
competent earth. Coupling experi- study have several striking character- in material or fracturing of subbedrock
ments at this site suggest that receivers istics likely influencing the hydrologic materials. The more than 40% drop in
require only simple ground contact to characteristics of this site. Drill data shear-wave velocity of bedrock mate-
record broad-spectrum surface-wave acquired prior to the seismic survey rials across this line represents a sig-
energy. Little or no improvement is helped optimize recording parameters nificant change in average stiffness.
evident in response (frequency versus and geometries and provided baseline It is possible that the limestone unit
amplitude) when geophones are ground truth for identifying of bedrock drill-confirmed to be present beneath
planted by using spikes, placed on on the shear-wave profiles. The the shale bedrock on the south end
the ground using plates, or held to the bedrock surface is characterized by its may be missing on the north end, leav-
ground with sandbags (Figure 2). This high velocity gradient, correlation to ing only shale for the first 20 ft or so
observation continues to fuel research boreholes, and velocity range. below the surface of bedrock on the
into the use of land streamers, contin- Data quality and characteristics north end.
There are two features on line 2
with the potential to affect fluid move-
ment along the surface of bedrock
(Figure 4b). An extreme drop in shear-
wave velocity beneath station 2050 is
either a paleochannel infilled with
weathered bedrock material or a frac-
ture/fault zone. On the western flank
of this abrupt low-velocity zone is a
very localized velocity low beneath
station 2040. This feature is pro-
nounced and topographically the low-
est point along this line on the bedrock
surface. Immediately beneath station
2050 a drop in the shear-wave veloc-
ity is evident from the ground surface
to about 5 ft or so. This shallow low-
velocity zone correlates with the
known location of a sewer line buried
along the eastern side of the building. Figure 6. This 2.5-D bench representation of lines 1, 2, 3, and 4 allows delin-
The second noteworthy feature on this eation of bedrock features across this site. Bedrock has been drill-confirmed
line is the broad channel feature on to be consistent with the 800 ft/sec contour across this entire site.
the east end of the line, defined by the sent in all cases when using this alous feature located beneath station
gradual drop in shear-wave velocity method to delineate anomalies or to 4140 on line 4 is difficult to correlate
beyond station 2140. This bedrock study changes in material properties. directly to line 2. If this fracture/fault-
channel could be the result of cut-and- Two striking features on line 4 are channel feature rapidly widens to the
fill, with the infill material having dis- candidates for breeches in the confin- northeast, it would correlate with the
tinctly different properties than the ing properties of bedrock (Figure 4d). much wider channel-looking feature
low-velocity unconsolidated sedi- The most interesting feature on this on the northeast end of line 2. This fea-
ments above bedrock. line is located beneath station 4080 and ture may not exist beneath line 2.
The shear-wave velocity profile of seems to be directly associated with a Considering the variability commonly
line 3 is characterized by several geo- similar feature beneath station 2050 on observed in outcrop, abrupt termina-
logically significant changes in mate- line 2. Velocity contrasts associated tion or changes in fractures of this mag-
rial properties (Figure 4c). These data with this channel-fault/fracture, its nitude would not be considered
correlate quite well with the four bore- physical dimensions, and relative loca- unrealistic. Line 4 possesses several
holes in close proximity. This profile tion are consistent between the two features that will affect transport and
provides insight into the gross texture profiles. A low-velocity zone extend- fate models for this site.
and irregular nature of the bedrock ing from very near the surface down Data resolution is an issue that
surface. The velocity high at about sta- to about 5 ft is the footprint of the must be addressed when using this
tion 3130 may act as a hydrologic bar- sewer trench seen on line 2 that runs technique. It is appropriate to ques-
rier, separating fluid introduced south along the eastern side of the manu- tion the unlikelihood that bedrock sur-
of station 3140 from any north of sta- facturing building. Correlation of the face on line 3 possesses the extreme
tion 3120. The deepest bedrock sewer trench with the extreme veloc- pinnacle topography suggested by this
observed on any of the surface-wave ity low in the bedrock cannot be section. The general trend of these data
profiles (estimated to be around 25 ft) assumed a simple coincidence. There- is accurate, as verified by drilling.
is present at the northern end of line 3 fore, a borehole was drilled to confirm Outcrop studies have noted bedrock
near the loading-dock area of the that the lower-velocity channel in blocks scattered beneath weathered
manufacturing building. Pinnacle- bedrock between stations 4075 and material consistent with the highs
looking bedrock structures are promi- 4088 was real and not an artifact of the observed on this 4:1 vertically exag-
nent on the north end of line 3. sewer trench and methodology. This gerated section. It must be kept in
Delineating the short-wavelength deep channel is probably the most mind that surface-wave imaging tech-
undulations (pinnacle features) in the hydrologically significant feature niques involve the inversion of a wave
bedrock surface along the southern related to transport and fate in prox- that has sampled an area nearly as
end of this line would not have been imity to the southeast corner of the wide as deep. As well, the sampling
economical with borehole data alone. building. Consistency in physical depth is generally considered to be
We can infer that these localized highs shape and velocity of this feature with half the wavelength. Assuming the
and lows in the bedrock surface would the one interpreted on line 2 is testa- wave is limited to the 2-D plane, the
greatly increase the hydrologic com- ment to the consistency in the mea- velocity value assigned to a single sam-
plexity of fluids moving along the surement characteristics for unique ple point in the subsurface has been
bedrock surface. Suggesting that these subsurface features. This bedrock low- calculated using a wave that has sam-
severe pinnacle-type features are rep- velocity zone will influence how fluid pled an area several times the square
resentative of the true bedrock surface moves along and within shallow of the sample point depth. Therefore,
brings up questions of resolution and bedrock; it could act either as a barrier structures observed on shear-wave
accuracy in subsurface sample point or a conduit. cross-sections are likely smoothed,
placement. In highly variable areas, Bedrock seems to get shallower subdued, and/or a sculpted version of
smearing will be more evident and toward the eastern end of line 4. This what really exists in the subsurface.
significant to the accuracy of geologic observation is also consistent with Resolution of the drill-defined
models. Some distortion will be pre- interpretations of line 2. The anom- bedrock surface map improves signif-
icantly after incorporation of shear- tural noise. The insensitivity of MASW
BOOKMARK SEG wave velocity data (Figure 5). Depth- to cultural obstacles and noise was
SEG SEGsearch engines
search engines to-bedrock contours based on drill demonstrated at this site (e.g., approx-
Site search data alone grossly defined the config- imately 220 000 square yards asphalt uration of bedrock in proximity to the parking lot, electrical and mechanical
Digital Cumulative Index boreholes. However, due to the spo- noise from nearby industrial facilities, radic nature and nonuniformity in traffic noise from the adjacent high-
Member search drill-hole spacing, drill data alone do way, exploratory drilling on the not allow subtle and, in many cases, asphalt parking lot, and aircraft noise).
extremely significant bedrock features Depth-to-bedrock maps produced
Learn more about SEG to be extended, or in some cases even using shear-wave velocity and drill
detected. The bedrock contour map data possesses significantly higher produced using only shear-wave data resolution than maps produced using
Constitution and Bylaws from this site lacks the necessary off- drilling or shear-wave velocity data line control. Incorporating the drill individually. There is less than 1 ft of
Code of Ethics data and shear-wave data greatly difference in the depth-to-bedrock improved the detail and sitewide res- interpreted from surface-wave data
SEG Foundation Museum olution of the depth-to-bedrock map compared to the depths determined as compared to either data set indi- through drilling.
Virtual Museum vidually. Adding a few more seismic Improved resolution on the sur- lines could noticeably improve the face of the bedrock provides insight
Services 3-D aspects of the bedrock contours. into the texture of bedrock and permits Displaying the data in a 2.5-D fence identification and appraisal of short-
Advertise with SEG diagram allows appraisal of the con- wavelength variations in the bedrock
sistency in measured shear-wave surface. The goals and objectives of velocity and helps to interpolate fea- this survey were met. Advantages of
Buyers Guide
tures between lines (Figure 6). Analysis mapping the bedrock surface with the
of measurement uniqueness for a shear-wave velocity field calculated
given surface location suggests that from surface waves include the insen-
bedrock ties are quite good. However, sitivity of MASW to velocity inver-
Stay current in the field correlation of shallow features (< 5 ft) sions, ease of generating and
Continuing Education from line to line lacks consistency at propagating surface-wave energy in the tie points when spread orientation comparison to body-wave energy, and
Consortia information is changed. This observation is con- sensitivity to lateral changes in veloc- sistent with the fact that each shear- ity.
Employment wave velocity trace is determined through simultaneous analysis of all Suggestions for further reading.
job-list arrivals within the spread. For this data Seismic techniques to delineate disso- set each shear-wave velocity value has lution features in the upper 1000 ft at a
resumes been influenced by material along a 94- power plant site, and Using MASW to
ft long spread. The more abrupt and map bedrock in Olathe, Kansas, both by
larger the velocity contrast associated Miller et al., SEG 1999 Expanded Abstracts.
Attend meetings Multichannel analysis of surface waves
with a feature, the larger the gradient
on the velocity contours. Subtle using Vibroseis (MASWV) by Park et
Geophysics meetings and courses
al., SEG 1996 Expanded Abstracts. changes and small (one-fourth spread
Multichannel analysis of surface length) anomalies will be difficult to
waves, by Park et al., GEOPHYSICS, v. 64, confidently delineate using the MASW n. 3. Estimation of shear wave velocity and continuous profiling techniques. in a compressible Gibson half-space by
However, abrupt, large gradient inverting Rayleigh wave phase veloc-
Read SEG journals online changes in velocity, such as those asso- ity, by Xia et al., SEG 1997 Expanded
ciated with voids or collapse features, Abstracts. Estimation of near-surface
EdgeNET have been detected with lateral dimen- shear-wave velocity by inversion of sions as small as a few feet. Rayleigh wave, by Xia et al., GEOPHYSICS,
GeoArchives v. 64, n. 3. Evaluation of the MASW Summary. High-velocity gradients technique in unconsolidated sediments,
Geophysics Online within the shear-wave velocity field and A pitfall in shallow shear-wave consistent with drill-confirmed refraction surveying, both by Xia et al.,
Yearbook bedrock are considered diagnostic of SEG 1999 Expanded Abstracts. L E the bedrock surface and were used to
map the top of bedrock on all four Acknowledgments: We appreciate the sup-
Let the SEG help you out lines collected at this site. Localized port provided by Harding Lawson Associates
lateral decreases in the shear-wave for this applied research project. Technical
SEG help guide assistance by David Laflen, Nathan Geier, as
velocity below the bedrock surface well as the document preparation work of
were classified as fracture zones or ero-
SEG personnel contact information Mary Brohammer and Amy Stillwell greatly sional channels. Calculating the shear-
contributed to this work.
Send SEG your comments wave velocity field from surface-wave arrivals was accomplished with a high Corresponding author: R. Miller,
degree of accuracy regardless of cul-