What Is Seismic Survey?
The seismic survey is one form of geophysical survey that aims at measuring the earth’s (geo-) properties by means of physical (-physics) principles such as magnetic, electric, gravitational, thermal, and elastic theories. It is based on the theory of elasticity and therefore tries to deduce elastic properties of materials by measuring their response to elastic disturbances called seismic (or elastic) waves.
A seismic source-such as a sledgehammer-is used to generate seismic waves, sensed by receivers deployed along with a preset geometry (called receiver array), and then recorded by a digital device called seismograph (Fig. 1). Based on a typical propagation mechanism used in a seismic survey, seismic waves are grouped primarily into direct, reflected, refracted, and surface waves (Fig. 2).
There are three major types of seismic surveys: refraction, reflection, and surface-wave depending on the specific type of waves being utilized. Each type of seismic survey utilizes a specific type of wave (for example, reflected waves for reflection survey) and its specific arrival pattern on a multichannel record (Fig. 3). Seismic waves for the survey can be generated in two ways: actively or passively. They can be generated actively by using an impact source like a sledgehammer or passively by natural (for example, tidal motion and thunder) and cultural (for example, traffic) activities. Most of the seismic surveys historically implemented have been the active type. Seismic waves propagating within the vertical plane holding both source and receivers are also called inline waves, whereas those coming off the plane are called offline waves (Fig. 4).