Stiffness measurements are often necessary for geotechnical characterization of an underwater site. Seismically, these measurements can be made through the dispersion analysis of the Rayleigh-type surface waves. Successful terrestrial application of this method has been reported by many investigators using spectral analysis of surface waves (SASW) and more recently using multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW). The MASW method was originally developed as a land survey method to investigate the near-surface materials for their elastic properties: for example, the shear-wave velocity (VS), by recording and analyzing Rayleigh-type surface waves using a vertical (impulsive) seismic source and receivers. The acquired data are first analyzed for dispersion characteristics and, from these the shear-wave velocity is estimated using an inversion technique.

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