Abstract

Seismic reflection techniques were used to characterize a bedrock surface buried under alluvium near a construction site on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. One of the objectives of the study was to determine if either compressional or shear seismic profiling could be used to reduce the number of engineering boreholes required to determine the bedrock depth and relief prior to building construction. The upper few meters of the alluvium is dry but the lower portion is below the water table, making the bedrock surface a difficult target for compressional waves. The compressional reflection coefficient at the water table is an order of magnitude greater than that at the bedrock surface, and the dry alluvium reduces the signal bandwidth such that the two reflections cannot be distinguished. Also, the multimode Rayleigh ground roll, traveling along the surface at about half the speed of the compressional wave, swamps the reflections.By using shear waves to profile the alluvium/bedrock interface, it was possible to avoid the water table and ground roll problems associated with compressional profiling. Walkaway survey results and analytical models presented demonstrate that shear waves do not 'see' the water table, and masking of the bedrock target by the reflection at the dry/wet alluvium interface does not occur. Nor was ground roll a problem because the Love 'ground roll,' traveling at a velocity almost as fast as the shear body wave, moves across the geophone spread before the return of the shallow reflections.Common depth point (CDP) and optimum offset shear profiles are presented. Uncertainty in determining the depth to bedrock from the seismic data was estimated to be 3 ft (0.9 m), which is sufficiently accurate to be useful in reducing the number of preconstruction boreholes required in the Brazos floodplain.

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