Traditionally, acquiring seismic data has rested on the assumption that geophone mass should be as small as possible. When Steeples and coworkers in 1999 planted 72 geophones automatically and simultaneously with a farm tillage implement, the effective mass of each of the geophones was significantly increased. We examined how the mass of a geophone affects changes in traveltime, amplitude, frequency, and overall data quality by placing various external masses on top of 100-Hz vertical geophones. Circular barbell weights of 1.1-, 11.3-, and 22.7 kg; an 8.2-kg bag of lead shot; and a 136-kg stack of barbell weights were placed on top of geophones during data acquisition. In addition, a very large mass in the form of a truck was parked on top of two of the geophones. Four seismic sources supplying a broad range of energies were tested: a sledgehammer, a .22-caliber rifle, a 30.06 rifle, and an 8-gauge Betsy Seisgun. Spectral analysis revealed that the smaller weights had the greatest effects on the capacities of the geophones to replicate the earth's motion. Consequently, using geophones with a large effective mass as part of an automatic geophone-planting device would not necessarily be detrimental to the collection of high-quality near-surface seismic data.

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