Development of the Spectral-Analysis-of-Body-Waves (SABW) method for downhole seismic testing with boreholes or penetrometers
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Downhole seismic testing and seismic cone penetration testing (SCPT) have shown little change since the 1990’s, with essentially the same sensors, sources, test procedures and analytical methods being used. In these tests, the time differences of first-arrivals or other reference points early in the time-domain signals have been used to calculate shear and compression wave velocities in soil and rock layers. This time-domain method requires an operator to pick the first arrival or other reference point of each seismic wave in the time record. Picking these reference points correctly is critical in calculating wave velocities. However, picking these points in time records is time consuming and is not always easy because of low signal-to-noise ratios, especially in the case of shear waves which arrive later in the time record. To avoid picking reference points, a cross-correlation method is sometimes applied to determine travel times of the seismic waves, especially in traditional downhole testing. One benefit of the cross-correlation method is that it can be automated. The cross-correlation method is not, however, appropriate for evaluation other body wave characteristics such as wave dispersion and material damping. An alternate approach is to use frequency-domain analysis methods which are well suited for evaluating time changes between all types of waveforms measured at spatially different points. In addition, frequency-domain methods can be automated and attenuation measurements can also be performed. Examples of such testing procedures with Rayleigh-type surface waves in geotechnical earthquake engineering are the Spectral-Analysis-of-Surface-Waves (SASW) and Multi-Channel-Analysis-of-Surface-Waves (MASW) methods. In this research, an automated procedure for calculating body wave velocities that is based on frequency-domain analysis is presented. The basis for and an automated procedure to calculated body wave dispersion is also presented. Example results showing shear wave velocity and material damping measurements in the SCPT are presented. The objective of this study is to improve downhole seismic tests with boreholes, cone penetrometers or flat-plate dilatometers by developing a frequency-domain analysis method which overcomes many of the disadvantages of time-domain analyses. The frequency-domain method is called the Spectral-Analysis-of-Body-Waves (SABW) method. The SABW method does not require an operator to pick the first-arrival or other reference times. As a result, the shear wave velocities and wave dispersion can be calculated in real time using the interpretation method with an automatic calculation procedure, thus reducing human subjectivity. Also, the SABW method can be used to determine additional information from the dispersion curves such as the material damping ratio and an estimate of soil type based on the dispersion relationship. In this research, field SCPT measurements are presented as an example to illustrate the potential of the SABW method. Measurements with shear waves are highlighted because these measurements are most often required in geotechnical earthquake engineering studies.