The frequency-dependent properties of Rayleigh-type surface waves can be utilized for imaging and characterizing the shallow subsurface. Most surface-wave analysis relies on the accurate calculation of phase velocities for the horizontally traveling fundamental-mode Rayleigh wave acquired by stepping out a pair of receivers at intervals based on calculated ground roll wavelengths. Interference by coherent source-generated noise inhibits the reliability of shear-wave velocities determined through inversion of the whole wave field. Among these nonplanar, nonfundamental-mode Rayleigh waves (noise) are body waves, scattered and nonsource-generated surface waves, and higher-mode surface waves. The degree to which each of these types of noise contaminates the dispersion curve and, ultimately, the inverted shear-wave velocity profile is dependent on frequency as well as distance from the source. Multichannel recording permits effective identification and isolation of noise according to distinctive trace-to-trace coherency in arrival time and amplitude. An added advantage is the speed and redundancy of the measurement process. Decomposition of a multichannel record into a time variable-frequency format, similar to an uncorrelated Vibroseis record, permits analysis and display of each frequency component in a unique and continuous format. Coherent noise contamination can then be examined and its effects appraised in both frequency and offset space. Separation of frequency components permits real-time maximization of the S/N ratio during acquisition and subsequent processing steps. Linear separation of each ground roll frequency component allows calculation of phase velocities by simply measuring the linear slope of each frequency component. Breaks in coherent surface-wave arrivals, observable on the decomposed record, can be compensated for during acquisition and processing. Multichannel recording permits single-measurement surveying of a broad depth range, high levels of redundancy with a single field configuration, and the ability to adjust the offset, effectively reducing random or nonlinear noise introduced during recording. A multichannel shot gather decomposed into a swept-frequency record allows the fast generation of an accurate dispersion curve. The accuracy of dispersion curves determined using this method is proven through field comparisons of the inverted shear-wave velocity (v s ) profile with a downhole v s profile.

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