Surface-wave method for near-surface characterization: a tutorial
Surface-wave methods (SWMs) are very powerful tools for the near-surface characterization of sites. They can be used to determine the shear-wave velocity and the damping ratio overcoming, in some cases, the limitations of other shallow seismic techniques. The different steps of SWM have to be optimized, taking into consideration the conditions imposed by the small scale of engineering problems. This only allows the acquisition of apparent dispersion characteristics: i.e. the high frequencies and short distances involved make robust modelling algorithms necessary in order to take modal superposition into account. The acquisition has to be properly planned to obtain quality data over an adequate frequency range. Processing and inversion should enable the interpretation of the apparent dispersion characteristics, i.e. evaluating the local quality of the data, filtering coherent noise due to other seismic events and determining energy distribution, higher modes and attenuation. The different approaches that are used to estimate and interpret the dispersion characteristics are considered. Their potential and limits with regard to sensitivity to noise, reliability and capability of extracting significant information present in surface waves are discussed. The theory and modelling algorithms, and the acquisition, processing and inversion procedures suitable for providing stiffness and damping ratio profiles are illustrated, with particular attention to reliability and resolution.