Noninvasive geophysical techniques based on the dispersion of surface waves in layered media are commonly used approaches for measuring shear-wave velocity profiles of the subsoil. Acquiring surface waves is a simple task, but the interpretation of their dispersion curves poses a number of challenges. In an increasing number of cases, shear-wave velocity profiles are derived from the inversion of dispersion curves of surface waves and single-station passive horizontal-to-vertical (H/V) spectral ratios, mostly using a blind joint fit of the two sets of curves. Here we emphasize the benefits of carrying out H/V surveys prior to any array acquisition. We propose to start by collecting at least two H/V recordings at a site to verify the 1D plane-parallel soil condition, as this is essential in dispersion curve inversion/modeling. Then, we look for the diagnostic features of velocity inversions in the H/V curves: when they occur, the interpretation of dispersion curves is made difficult by mode splitting/superposition and Love wave arrays will not be effective. Then we inspect the shape of the H/V curves: flat curves acquired on rock usually imply poor dispersion curves. Large receiver spacings are recommended in the arrays and Love wave arrays will not be efficient. Flat curves on soft material sites represent gently increasing VS gradients and Rayleigh wave arrays should be preferred. H/V curves with high frequency peaks indicate shallow impedance contrasts: this makes Love wave arrays efficient for the soft layer characterization, but provide little information at depth. H/V curves with low frequency peaks indicate deep bedrock and their inversion can provide approximate VS profiles down to greater depths than from an array. Equipped with the information coming from accurate H/V observations, practitioners could make better-informed decisions about array acquisition geometries, source/surface wave types, and inversion strategies.

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