Field Survey

How to Acquire Data for Vs30m Evaluation

Most typical MASW data acquisition for seismic site characterization (SSC)  requires a 24-channel seismic acquisition system consisting of 24-channel seismograph, seismic cable with 24 hookups (takeouts), 24 low-frequency geophones (e.g., 4.5-Hz ones), and a heavy sledge hammer (e.g., 10 lb or heavier).  The figure below illustrates a typical configuration of all necessary components.

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Proper setting of acquisition parameters is critical for a successful survey. They consist of recording and geometry parameters. The former relates to setting those to operate seismograph properly, whereas the latter deals with proper spatial configuration of seismic source and receivers. Sampling interval (dt) and recording time (T) are the most important recording parameters, and receiver spacing (dx) and source offset (X1) are the most critical geometry parameters. Tables 1 and 2 below summarize the most optimum values of these two types of parameters when investigating the top 30 m to produce Vs30m values.

The acquisition software of most seismographs allows the user to setup the surface coordinates of both source and receiver locations in the file saved. If this is correctly executed during the survey, it will significantly simplify the post-acquisition data-analysis procedure by skipping the step of the "acquisition geometry setup", which is usually one of the most time-consuming and error-prone steps in data analysis.

The geometry parameters (dx and X1) influence the maximum investigation depth (Zmax). In general, a longer receiver spread associated with a longer receiver spacing ensures a deeper Zmax. Also, a longer source offset (X1) for a given receiver spread is necessary to ensure the high quality of surface waves for relatively longer wavelengths by minimizing as much as possible some harmful effects, such as near-field effects. Longer wavelengths are necessary for the analysis of deeper depths.

On the other hand, a shorter X1 is also needed to ensure the same quality for relatively short wavelengths needed for the analysis at shallower depths. Therefore, it is usually a combination of several different X1's that can achieve the highest quality ever possible for a broad range of wavelengths to cover as much depth range as possible for a given setting. In fact, the same combination of different X1's can be applied on the front (forward) and back (reverse) sides of the receiver spread so that the possible change in subsurface property in lateral direction (e.g., change in bedrock depth) can be properly accounted for during processing. This is illustrated in the figure below. Actual field records obtained at different X1's are also displayed to illustrate how surface wave arrival patterns change as X1 and orientation of source change. Acquiring data from both ends of the receiver spread can also provide redundancy in measurement that will eventually contribute to an increased signal-to-noise ratio (S/N). Table 2 below shows typical values of source offset (X1) and receiver spacing (dx) used to perform a SSC survey for the Vs30m evaluation. It is also recommended collecting (saving) multiple files (e.g., 3 files) at a given X1 for quality control purposes and also to further increase S/N if that is deemed necessary during data processing. On the other hand, the vertical stacking explained below that saves only one file from multiple impacts can often provide equally the same advantage of the increased S/N. File names, and all these recording and geometry parameters must be logged in a separate field note, a sample of which is shown here.

*Vertical stacking is applied whenever it is necessary to increase signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) to compensate for a noisy environment during data acquisition.  Instead of saving a set of recorded data from one hammer impact, multiple recordings from successive multiple impacts can be summed (i.e., stacked on top of the previous recording data) in the control unit's memory.  This will enhance amplitudes of consistent signal surface waves through constructive overlapping, whereas those inconsistent noise surface waves from ambient activities such as traffic will lose relative  amplitudes via destructive overlapping.  Vertical stacking of "1" in seismograph's acquisition software means there will be only one impact for each recording (therefore, "no" stacking).  If it is set to 3, for example, then data from each impact will remain in the memory until the third set of data is collected and then the stacked data will be saved onto the hard drive.  In this case, each impact will have to be separated by a time period longer than, at least, recording time (T).

*The receiver spacing must be chosen in such a way that the total array length becomes about twice as long as the investigation depth (i.e., >= 60 m). **Source offsets (X1's) are denoted by number of receiver spacings (dx), and can be applied on both sides of a given receiver spread (i.e., forward and reverse shots, see figure below).

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