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Chapter 7: Near-Surface Seismology: Wave Propagation

John R. Pelton
John R. Pelton
Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho 83725; Email:
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January 01, 2005


Near-surface seismology derives much of its identity from the physical characteristics of the near-surface environment. Natural materials encountered at shallow depths possess exceptionally diverse mechanical properties as documented by the classification schemes of soil and rock mechanics. Geologic boundaries across which mechanical properties undergo large and rapid changes are commonly present, most notably the water table and the soil-bedrock interface. Porosity occurs in many forms and at a wide variety of scales, and tends toward relatively high values because of low confining pressures. Water, air, biogenic gases, and fluid contaminants occupy the pore space in spatially varying proportions. Near-surface stress increases very rapidly with depth, but the principal stresses may not align with vertical and horizontal directions. At depths where soils and rocks are saturated with groundwater, significant pore water pressure acts on the solid frame. All of these physical characteristics combine with the nature of the seismic source to determine the near-surface seismic wavefield.

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Investigations in Geophysics

Near-Surface Geophysics

Dwain K. Butler
Dwain K. Butler
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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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Publication date:
January 01, 2005




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