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Proceedings of Indian Geotechnical Conference

December 22-24, 2013, Roorkee

APPLICATION OF GEOPHYSICAL SEISMIC REFRACTION SURVEY FOR


GEOTECHNICAL SITE INVESTIGATION

B.Pratap, Scientist B CSMRS, New Delhi, e-mail: bpcsmrs@gmail.com


A.Varughese, Scientist C (I/c) CSMRS, New Delhi, e-mail: alexvarughese@ gmail.com

ABSTRACT: There is an increasing requirement for geophysical seismic refraction surveys carried out during
geotechnical investigations to provide direct information about rock quality or other geotechnical parameters. This
information is required for deciding and designing the foundations for the civil structures. The geophysical seismic
refraction survey was conducted for the construction of proposed dam site of Ujh multipurpose project District;
Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The aim of the survey was to provide and evaluate the thickness and quality
of the overburden and characteristics of the bedrock profile, along the surveyed seismic lines. The seismic
refraction survey employed at the dam site proved to be very useful, quick and economical for geotechnical site
investigation.

1. INTRODUCTION
Geophysical seismic refraction survey is widely refraction survey work, explosive was used for
accepted as a non destructive dynamic test for generation of seismic waves. A total of five shots
geotechnical site investigation. It is used to were executed, two at the extreme end of the
determine the magnitude of seismic wave profile line, one at the middle and two at a distance
velocities and to locate significant elastic equivalent of the profile line from beginning and
discontinuities of the subsurface. Seismic end of geophones.
refraction survey plays an important role in the This paper describes the methodology adopted,
field of geotechnical site investigations. This type equipment used, actual field work carried out and
of investigation is fast and economic, so large area conclusion drawn from the seismic refraction
can be covered in less time to determine the depth survey conducted at dam site of Ujh multipurpose
of bed rock, depth of overburden, estimating project District; Kathua (J&K).
rippability etc. In order to evaluate the thickness of
the overburden and characteristics of the bed rock, 2. SUBSURFACE GEOLOGY
seismic refraction survey was conducted to Geologically, the surveyed area is underlain by
delineate the bed rock profile to facilitate the Siwalik formation, comprising formations from
construction of the dam. recent and sub-recent to Miocene, in age. These
The Ujh multipurpose project envisages the deposits comprise of thin sequence of pebbles,
construction of 119 m high dam for the generation cobbles, boulders, sandstones and coarse sands
of 280 MW power. The project area is located on intercalated with clays. The geological succession
the river Ujh, near Panchthirthi, District; Kathua, of the area is given in table 1.
(J&K) state. The entire area was covered with naturally densely
Seismic refraction survey for a total length of 644 packed river borne materials consisting of
m consisting of 5 spreads was conducted on right boulders of size varying from 0.1 to 1.00 m with its
and left bank of Ujh River. For the seismic
interstices filled with coarse sand, gravels and height, whereas the left bank was plain. Exposed
pebbles. On the right bank, the exposed rock sand stone, gritty sandstones with thin clay partings
dipping downstream was visible. In the right bank belonging to Lower Siwalik group was observed
exposed rock was observed up to a considerable along the proposed dam site (GSI Report, 2009).

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Birendra Pratap & Alex Varughese

Table 1 The geological succession of the area 3.1 Data Acquisition


The seismic refraction survey was conducted using
Sub Stage Lithology Age the ABEM TERROLAC- 24 channel seismograph
Group consisting of two 12 - conductor cables, amplifiers,
Upper Dhok Sandstone, Lower geophones, seismic cables, seismic energy source,
Siwalik Pathan Shale with Pliocene blaster and recording device. The amplifiers
Stage isolated function is to boost the signal detected by the
nodules geophones to a level suitable for input to the
recording device. The main energy source used
Middle Nagri Sandstone Upper was low charge blasting. For each spread of 24
Siwalik Stage and Shale Miocene geophones, 5 shots were executed, three shots
within the profile to obtain the lateral velocity
variation in the top layer (s) and two shots on either
side of the spread, to provide the true seismic
3. SEISMIC REFRACTION SURVEY velocity of the sound rock surface. The seismic
In seismic refraction survey, elastic waves are record from each shot was verified in the field for
generated artificially by explosive source or by the accuracy of the data.
mechanical hammer. The source should ideally Five seismic profiles consisting of three seismic
provide a pulse of duration, not more than a few lines No. 110001, 110002 and 110003 of total
milliseconds with high amplitude. In an elastic length 391 m on the right bank and seismic lines
homogeneous ground the source inducts No. 220001 and 220002 of total length 253 m on
instantaneous deformation, which causes the left bank was conducted (CSMRS Report,
deformation in the vicinity of the source point. By 2011). The layout plan of the seismic profile lines
virtue of the elastic behaviour of the rock, the is shown in Fig. 1. The seismic refraction survey
elastic deformation propagates in all directions as was conducted across dam axis in the right bank
spherical wave fronts. On critical refraction, the and left bank sides, only in the dry areaSince the
refracted waves travel along the interface and area was covered with exposed boulders, cobbles
sends out secondary waves to the surface. These and pebbles, it was difficult to plant the geophones.
returning waves are recorded in the seismic Hence geophones were planted in plastic bucket
refraction survey. filled with sand and it was embedded in the ground
A typical seismic profile consists of 24 number of as shown in Fig. 2.
vertical geophones uniformly spaced at a distance
of 5 or 6 m. Explosives or mechanical hammer are 3.2 Interpretation Techniques
used for generation of seismic waves. Generally, There are various methods of interpretation of
five shots are used for recording the seismic waves seismic refraction field data viz. Intercept Time
depending upon the topography and layout of the method, Critical Distance method, Hales method,
profile. The quantity of the explosive charge used Wave Front method and Hawkins method or Plus -
range from 0.12 kg to 1.2 kg depending upon the Minus method or ABC method (Sjogren, 1984). In
site conditions. The shots are fired with zero delay this case, interpretation of seismic data was done
detonators. The seismic equipment is actuated using ABC method. This method provides
automatically by make and breaks circuit or by a information on thickness of the various layers,
trigger geophone planted a distance of less than 0.5 depth to bed rock under each geophone and rock
m from the shot point. The seismic wave trace quality. The interpretation procedure consists of
recorded in the floppy disc and hard copy prints are Picking up of first arrivals of P-wave from the
taken for calculation, travel time of seismic waves. seismic records.

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Application of Geophysical Seismic Refraction Survey for Geotechnical Site Investigation

Fig. 1 Layout plan of geoseismic profile lines at proposed dam site.

Fig. 2 Arrangement to fix Geophones at dam site


.

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The timedistance plots are drawn for all the shot collecting data from different such projects by the
points. The interpretation of P-wave velocity and using same equipment. The interpretation of a line
depth of various layers of subsurface formations along a sloping surface tends to be erroneous. The
are then performed by Plus-Minus method. The accuracy increases with the increase in contrast of
bed rock depth has been calculated at every the various layers.
geophone position to arrive at the bed rock profile.
Different seismic velocities seen from the field 4 DISCUSSION OF THE RESULTS
records have been interpreted by considering the
variation in seismic velocities within the different 4.1 Right Bank of Proposed Dam Axis
types of sub-surface material (Varughese et al, Two seismic lines No. 110001 and 110003 each of
2011) and taking into account the local geology. lengths 138 m and one seismic line No. 110002 of
length 115 m on the right bank was conducted
3.3 Representative Seismic Velocities in Various across the dam axis. Out of which the data
Materials collected for seismic line No. 110002 of length 115
The range of Compressional or P- wave velocity m was uninterruptable. The location of these
for various Earth materials under dry and wet seismic lines is shown in Fig 1. The geoseismic
conditions varies (Keary and Brooks, 1984). The section of profile line is given in Fig. 3 & 4.
order of magnitude of the Compressional wave
velocities helps in classifying the sub-surface(a) Profile Line No: 110001
layers in terms of engineering strength. From the The total length of the seismic profile line was 138
evaluated Compressional wave velocities the m and the geophone spacing was 6 m. On the basis
geological layers have been generally classified as of geoseismic section of profile line No. 110001
shown in Table 2 (CWPRS 2008). The results (Fig. 3), the geophysical model suggests three
however, obtained are to be calibrated with layers. The seismic velocity for first layer was
borehole logs data. found to be 600-1900 m/sec. Geophysical
interpretation as well as visual examination, it can
Table 2 Classification of Geological layers based be confirmed that the first layer (top surface layer)
on seismic velocity consists of river borne materials, boulders of size
varying from 0.1 to 1.00 m and its interstices filled
Sl. Velocity Classification with coarser fraction of sand, pebbles and gravels.
No. (m/sec) It was also observed that the materials were
1. less than 1000 Overburden densely packed.
2 1000-1400 Highly weathered rock
3 1400-2500 Weathered rock The seismic velocity of the second layer was found
4 2500-4000 Weak zone in bed rock to be 2300 - 3100 m/sec, which is the general P-
5 above 4000 Bed rock wave velocity in weathered rock/weak rock mass.
The second layer consists of saturated and densely
packed river borne materials. This layer seems to
3.4 Precision and Limitations be fully saturated. The bed rock was found only in
The depth of bed rock computed from seismic third layer having seismic velocity 4500 - 4800
refraction data should be accurate within +/- 10% m/sec. The depth of the bed rock varies from 41 to
of the actual depth. Other phenomenon such as 45 m. The interpreted results are presented in the
velocity inversion and hidden layers diminish the form of geoseismic section of profile line is given
procedure for interpretation. However, boundary in Fig. 3.
strata may have seismic velocity very close/similar
to the highly weathered rock/weathered rock/weak Profile Line No: 110003
zone in bedrock, which may lead to wrong The total length of seismic profile line was 138 m
interpretations. These cases may be avoided by and the geophone spacing was 6 m, conducted
correlation with borehole information and by parallel to seismic line No. 110001 as shown in

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Application of Geophysical Seismic Refraction Survey for Geotechnical Site Investigation

Fig. 1. On the basis of geoseismic section of profile The second layer consists of two strata having
line No. 110003 (Fig. 4), the geophysical model seismic velocity of 2200 - 3000 m/sec and 4500
suggests three layers. The seismic velocity for first m/sec. The second layer consist of saturated and
layer was found to be 600-1800 m/sec. densely packed river borne materials having P-
Geophysical interpretation as well as visual wave velocity 2200 - 3000 m/sec, which is the
examination, it can be confirmed that the first layer general P- wave velocity of weathered rock/weak
(top surface layer) consists of river borne materials, rock mass. The bed rock was found in second layer
boulders of size varying from 0.1 to 1.00 m and its having seismic velocity 4500 - 4800 m/sec. The
interstices filled with coarser fraction of sand, depth of the bed rock varies from 13 to 26 m. The
pebbles and gravels. It was also observed that the interpreted results are presented in the form of
materials were densely packed in nature. geoseismic section of profile line is given in Fig. 4.

Fig. 3 Geoseismic section of profile No. 110001


Fig. 4 Geoseismic section of profile No. 110003
4.2 Left Bank of Proposed Dam Axis 0.1 to 1.00 m and its interstices filled with coarser
Two seismic lines No. 220001 and 220002 of fraction of sand, pebbles and gravels. It was also
length 138 and 115 m on the left bank were observed that the materials were densely packed.
conducted across the dam axis. The location of
these seismic lines is shown in Fig. 1. The The seismic velocity of the second layer was found
geoseismic section of profile line is given in Fig. 5 to be 2600 m/sec, which is the general P-wave
& 6. velocity in weathered rock/weak rock mass. The
depth of second layer varies from 3 to 7 m. The
Profile Line No: 220001 bed rock was not found in this profile line.
The total length of the seismic profile line was 138 The interpreted results are presented in the form of
m and the geophone spacing was 6 m. On the basis geoseismic section of profile line is given in Fig. 5.
of geoseismic section of profile line No. 220001
(Fig. 5), the geophysical model suggests two Profile Line No: 220002
layers. The seismic velocity for first layer was The total length of the seismic profile line was 115
found to be 700 m/sec. Geophysical interpretation m and the geophone spacing was 5 m. On the basis
as well as visual examination, it can be confirmed of geoseismic section of profile line No. 220002
that the first layer (top surface layer) consists of (Fig. 6), the geophysical model suggests two
river borne materials, boulders of size varying from layers. The seismic velocity for first layer was

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found to be 550 m/sec. Geophysical interpretation The seismic velocity of the second layer was found
as well as visual examination, it can be confirmed to be 2200 m/sec, which is the general P-wave
that the first layer (top surface layer) consists of velocity in weathered rock/weak rock mass. The
river borne materials, boulders of size varying from depth of second layer varies from 4 to 7 m. The
0.1 to 1.00 m and its interstices filled with coarser bed rock was not found in this profile line. The
fraction of sand, pebbles and gravels. It was also interpreted results are presented in the form of
observed that the materials were densely packed. geoseismic section of profile line is given in Fig. 3.
The interpreted results are presented in the form of
geoseismic section of profile line is given in Fig. 6.

Fig. 5 Geoseismic section of profile No. 220001

Fig. 6 Geoseismic section of profile No. 220002

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Application of Geophysical Seismic Refraction Survey for Geotechnical Site Investigation

5 CONCLUSIONS Geophysical survey can be effectively used for


The geophysical seismic refraction survey geotechnical site investigation quickly and
conducted at Panchthirthi, District; Kathua, economically for deciding the engineering
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state, helped in project site.
deciding and designing the foundation of
proposed dam of Ujh Multipurpose Project. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The seismic survey interpreted results are The authors are really grateful to Director and
presented in P-wave velocity profiles with Group Head RM-I, Central Soil and Materials
Research Station (CSMRS), New Delhi for his
reduced level (RL) in the form of geoseismic
kind cooperation and permission to publication of
section. this paper. The authors are also grateful to Sh. Shiv
Geoseismic section of profile lines on the left Charan for their hard work in completing field
bank confirmed the seismic velocity of the first investigation.
layer as 550- 1900 m/sec with thickness
varying from 4 m to 20 m. REFERENCES
[1] GSI (2009), A short note on the feasibility
Geophysical interpretation inferred the first
stage geotechnical assessment of Ujh
layer (top surface layer) as overburden multipurpose project, Kathua district, Jammu
consisting of river borne materials filled with and Kashmir (J&K).
sand, boulders, gravels and pebbles. It was also [2] CSMRS (2011), Report on seismic refraction
observed that the materials were densely survey proposed dam site of Ujh multipurpose
packed. project, District, Kathua Jammu and Kashmir
(J&K).
The seismic velocity of the second layer was
[3] Sjogren, Bengt (1984), Shallow refraction
found to be 2200 -3100 m/sec, interpreted as seismic Chapman& Hall Atlas Copco, ABEM
Weathered rock/ weak rock mass. (1983) Terraloc Seismic System, Bromma
The seismic velocity of third/ second layer was Sweden.
4500 m/sec or more, interpreted as bed rock. [4] Varughese, Alex, Pratap, Birendra and Gupta,
The depth of the bed rock varies from 13 to 26 S.L. (2011), Subsurface investigation by
seismic refraction survey on bouldary bed- a
m near the right bank closer to the mountain
case study, Proc. of Third Indian Rock
and the same is deeper towards the centre of Conference, INDOROCK-201, 13-15 Oct.
the valley from 41to 45 m. 2011, Roorkee, 145-149.
[5] CWPRS (2008), Monograph on seismic
refraction methods on engineering applications.

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