Potentials of Applying Surface-Wave Methods for Imaging Subsurface Properties in Permafrost Soils

Dou, Shan (University of California) | Ajo-Franklin, Jonathan (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)



Seismic methods have the benefit of being noninvasive while providing continuous field-scale (hundreds of meters) information on subsurface characteristics of permafrost-affected soils. Imaging approaches based on surface wave propagation (e.g. MASW) are effective when characterizaing near-surface permafrost alteration (e.g. active zone freeze/thaw cycles) for at least two reasons: (1) energetic propagations within the top 10s of meters of the subsurface; (2) its direct indications on shear wave velocity, a sensitive indicator of soil matrix properties. We present a four-phase rock physics model developed for mapping frozen soil material properties to seismic observables. We predict seasonal variations in P- and S-wave velocities from the rock physics model based on existing in situ ground temperature measurements. We also conduct numerical simulations of seismic wave propagations based upon velocity models derived from rock physics model predictions. Surface wave dispersion analysis results generated from the resultant synthetic seismograms show that seismic methods, especially surface-wave-based approaches, are very promising approaches for delineating subsurface features in permafrost environments such as active layer thickness (ALT) variations, ice saturation, unfrozen water content, and soil texture, etc.

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