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Philip M. Reppert, Frank Dale Morgan, M. Nafi Toksoz

Earth Resources Laboratory

Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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42 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02 142


This presentation concerns the use of Amplitude Versus Offset (AVO) with ground
penetrating radar (GPR) data. We demonstrate that AVO may have possible uses with
GPR. Theory is presented in this paper on the principle of AVO as applied to
electromagnetic (EM) waves. The theory is demonstrated on field data obtained over a
drain field in Massachusetts.


There have been numerous papers on the subject of Amplitude Versus Offset (AVO),
including Rutherford and Williams (1989) and Castagna and Backus (1993). However,
most of these papers have dealt with AVO in seismology, while only two papers to date
have dealt with AVO and GPR Baker, (1998) and Reppert et al., (1998). In GPR the
primary focus of AVO has been to determine the relative velocities on either side of an
interface. This paper re-examines that aspect and adds another use for GPR and AVO.

The interest in studying AVO and radar is driven by a desire to have alternative ways of
measuring the velocity of the subsurface. In the past radar velocity analysis has almost
exclusively been done using CMPWARR: common midpoint/wide angle reflection
refraction surveys. This type of survey involves moving the antennas further apart at
each succeeding survey point (Annan 1992 ). The velocity is then determined using X2-
T2 analysis. AVO in radar also utilizes the CMPWARR method of collecting data.
Using traditional velocity analysis only the velocity on the surface side of a reflector can
be obtained. AVO has the advantage of allowing the velocity on both sides of a reflector
to be determined. Also, demonstrated in this paper is the ability of AVO to give a
quantitative analysis of the attenuation caused by subsurface materials and structures.
This in turn will allow appropriate gain functions to be determined and applied to the data
during processing.
The basis for radar AVO is found in electromagnetic (EM) theory. However, it is not the
intent of this paper to present a theoretical development of the reflection coefficient
equations for radar waves; this can be found in almost any EM textbook. Therefore, the
important equations will be presented along with the physics that governs their operation.


Proceedings of the Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, Copyright 1999 EEGS
As stated earlier the quantity that we are trying to determine is velocity, which is given in
Equation (1) for an EM wave.

*=&1+&a) (1)
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Where E is the permittivity of the medium, ~1is the magnetic permeability of the medium,
CTis the conductivity of the medium and o is the angular frequency. Equation (1) can be
reduced to

v=----- 1

for many applications in radar, where the frequency is either very high ( f>200 MHz) or
the conductivity is low. Therefore it can be seen that the velocity is dependent only on
the permittivity and magnetic permeability. Changes in velocity are basically due to
changes in permittivity, because for most earth materials the magnetic permeability can
be considered a constant (Telford, Geldart and Sherriff, 1995).

AVO in radar is dependent on the reflection coefficients for radar waves, which are given

E* &cose, --Jtz2 -cl sin2 6,

-= (3)
J- cl case, + &2 -fzl sin 6,

Er (EJoc~S~~ - J&g) - sin2 8,

- (4)

Ei (&)C0s61 +,i(&)-sinB,

where ~1 is the permittivity of the material above the boundary and ~2 is the permittivity
of the material below the boundary. The angle 81 is the angle the incident EM wave
makes with the vertical axis.

Equation (3) is the reflection coefftcient equation for a perpendicular polarized wave and
Equation (4) is the reflection coefficient equation for a parallel polarized wave. A
perpendicular polarized EM wave is one in which the electric field vector is
perpendicular to the plane of incidence. A parallel polarized EM wave is a wave where
the electric field vector is parallel to the plane of incidence.

It can be seen in Equations (3) and (4) that the reflection coefficients for EM waves are
only dependent on the permittivity of the materials on either side of the interface.

The last equation presented is the equation for the Brewster angle and is given in
Equation (5).
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The Brewster angle is the angle obtained by solving Equation (4) with the boundary
condition that no energy is reflected, thus all energy is transmitted. Because the Brewster
angle can only be derived from the parallel polarized form of the reflection coefficient
equation, Equation (4) it can be said that Brewster angles only occur for parallel
polarized EM waves. Brewster angels are a familiar subject in optics; therefore, more
information, if desired, can be found in most physics books.


It should be noted that, in order to use AVO and the Brewster angle, CMP/WARR data
must be used. AVO and Brewster angles utilizes the fact that the parallel polarized EM
reflection coefficients have a decrease in magnitude as you increase offset until zero
magnitude is reached at the Brewster angle. Then the magnitude increases until all
energy is reflected. The Brewster angle approach is not affected by attenuation,
providing you can see the Brewster angle, and therefore can be determined even with the
effects of attenuation present in the data. Once you determine the Brewster angle you
simply use Equation (5) to solve for the ratio of dielectric constants. If you know one
dielectric constant, you can determine the other.

The Brewster angle provides one more interesting application. Once you know the
Brewster angle, you know what the rest of the reflection coefficient curve versus offset
angle should look like. This knowledge allows for the determination of a gain function
that makes your data fit the reflection coefficient curve and, therefore, allows the correct
gain function to be determined for the data.


The GPR data was collected over a drain field in Ashby, Massachusetts. The data was
collected using a Pulse Ekko IV System with 200 MHz antennas in parallel endfire
configuration. The drain field data consists of three layers, which are shown in Figure 1.
These layers are: Layer 1, air; Layer 2, 2.4 meters of sand; Layer 3, 0.5 meters of water-
saturated sand; and Layer 4, hardpan. These layers were verified by digging. The
bedrock in the area consists of a light gray, medium grained, weakly foliated, weakly
metamorphosed granite that is of the Fitchburg Complex. The overburden of the drain
field consists of sand overlaying sandy silt, which contains various sized cobbles.


Traditional velocity analysis was done on the CMP data to give velocities of air, 0.3
m/nsec; sand, 0.08 mnsec; and the water-saturated sand, 0.063 rnhsec. These velocities
correspond to the following dielectric constants; air, 1; sand, 15; and water saturated sand

Figure 2 shows the raw CMP data, which was then bandpass filtered at 200 MHz and is
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shown in Figure 3. Color or gray scale plots as shown in Figure 3, can make amplitudes
easier to see. From Figure 3, two Brewster angle locations are found, one at position 4
and travel time 50 nsec and the other at position 3.5 and travel time 62 nsec. These
Brewster angles give dielectric constant ratios of 15/23 and 23/7, respectively. These
values are in good agreement with the known dielectric constants as shown above. The
dielectric constant of 7 is a good value for hardpan, which consists of compacted glacial

The amplitude of the reflections from the sand/ water saturated sand interface was
determined and plotted against the theory for the reflection coefficient curve for that
particular interface, which can be seen in Figure 4. The attenuation in the data can
clearly be seen and then corrected. This correction can then be put into any zero offset
survey performed in that area.


It has been demonstrated that AVO can be used effectively with radar. This technique
not only gives the relative dielectric constant ratios at an interface boundary but can be
used as an effective tool for determining the attenuation in a material.


I thank Nancy Reppert and Chantal Mattei for their assistance in collecting the data.

1. A. P. Annan, and S. W. Cosway, 1992, Ground Penetrating Radar Survey Design,
Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental
2. G. S. Baker, 1998, Applying AVO Analysis to GPR Data, Geophysical Research
Letters, Vol. 25, NO. 3, 397-400.
3. J. P. Castagna, and M. M. Backus, 1993, Theory and Practice of AVO Analysis, SEG
Investigations 8.
4. P. M. Reppert, F. D. Morgan, and N. M. Toksoz, 1998, GPR Velocity Determination
Using Brewster Angles, Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on
Ground Penetrating Radar, 485-490.
5. S. R. Rutherford, and R. H. Williams, 1989, Amplitude Versus Offset Variations in
Gas Sands, Geophysics, Vol. 54, No. 6.
6. W. M. Telford, L. P. Geldart, and R. E. Sheriff, 1995, Applied Geophysics,
Cambridge University Press, New York.

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\ /
Wet Sand I
Water 2.9 m
Figure 1 - A simplified schematic cross-section of the drain field used as the test
site. It consists of three layers, sand, wet sand, and hardpan.
The cross-section was constructed based on deep hole observations.

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'OC Tt
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2 0.9 -
g 0.8-

8 0.7-

p 0.5

0 lo 20 30 40 50 60 70

Figure 4 - The theoretical curve for a pseudo Brewster angle of 5 1 degrees and the
data from which the 5 1 degree Brewster angle was determined. It can be seen in this figure that there is
a discrepancy between the data and the theory. This discrepancy is caused by attenuation. Therefore,
a quantitative analysis of attenuation can be made.