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Effects of wavelength in MASW test for detection of

non-homogeneity in medium – laboratory experimental


results.
Hassan Ali,
GHD Limited, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Giovanni Cascante
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada

ABSTRACT
For soils whose stiffness varies with depth, dispersion will cause the Rayleigh wave phase velocity to vary with
frequency. Among the various test method, multichannel analysis of surface waves is a seismic test method that utilizes
the dispersion characteristics of Rayleigh waves to estimate the stiffness and profile of ground. A laboratory MASW
program was conducted on sandbox using accelerometers and state-of-art laser vibrometer. This unique study shows for
the first time the effects of the mass of the accelerometers on wave propagation measurements. The MASW laboratory
test results showed the effect of the frequency range on the calculation of the dispersion curve in the presence of an
anomaly. The frequency response from accelerometer is 2-20 kHz while for laser the response is between 48 – 51 kHz.
Coupling of geophone/transducer in laboratory surface waves testing is identified as a critical issue.

RÉSUMÉ
Pour les sols dont la rigidité varie avec la profondeur, la dispersion provoquera une variation de la vitesse de la phase
des ondes de Rayleigh avec la fréquence. Parmi les différentes méthodes d'essai, l'analyse MASW (multichannel
analysis of surface waves) est une méthode d'essai sismique qui utilise les caractéristiques de dispersion des ondes de
Rayleigh pour estimer la rigidité et le profil du sol. Un essai de MASW a été réalisé, en laboratoire, sur un bac de sable à
l'aide d'accéléromètres et d'un vibromètre laser. Cette étude unique montre pour la première fois les effets de la masse
des accéléromètres sur les mesures de propagation des ondes. Les résultats des essais de MASW en laboratoire ont
montré l'effet de la gamme de fréquences sur le calcul de la courbe de dispersion en présence d'une anomalie. La
réponse en fréquence de l'accéléromètre varie de 2 à 20 kHz, tandis que pour le laser, la réponse se situe entre 48 et 51
kHz. Le couplage du géophone / transducteur pour les essais des ondes de surface réalisé en laboratoire est identifié
comme un problème critique.

1 INTRODUCTION difficult and therefore field experiments and numerical


models are carried out to study this problem. Phillips et al.
For any geotechnical site characterization, location of soft (2004) conducted field tests, experiments on prototypes,
sedimentary soil layers, shallow bedrock, and detection of and numerical studies and reported areas of high-energy
underground anomalies is very important. This concentrations on the surface response over different
information is critical for the design of foundations, voids. Similarly, various numerical models with the lateral
embankments, tunnels, and seismic design of civil inhomogeneities showed that the presence of an anomaly
infrastructures. Among the various methods available for causes rippled signals in the time domain. These ripples
the site characterization, the use of the non-invasive are more noticeable in the area between the source and
geophysical techniques is a valuable tool in any design the void, because part of the incident wave energy is
process. reflected back from the void. It was further mentioned that
In spite of improvement in the geophysical methods, the width of the void affects the pattern of ripples while
identification of sub-surface ground anomalies is still a embedment depth of void affects the amplitude of the
challenging problem. Ground-penetrating radar has been reflections. In general, these studies show a good
successfully implemented for shallow depths; yet, agreement between the numerical simulation and the
problem arises when the underground surface consists of experimental results.
high conductivity materials such as clays (Kong et al., In order to study the effect of void size and location
1994). Seismic reflection can be used to locate different studies are carried out to associate the surface
underground cavities in the presence of horizontal soil response of a medium to the location and size of void.
layers above and below the void. Philips et al. (2001) performed field and laboratory
Multi-channel analysis of surface waves (MASW) is a experiment tests and presented the results in the
geophysical technique that has gained attention and frequency domain. They reported regions of high energy
acceptance for the detection of underground voids concentrations in the vicinity of the void and hence
(Nasseri-Moghaddam et al., 2007). The MASW technique suggested the use of power spectral density functions
uses Rayleigh waves for estimating the soil stiffness (PSD method) for the detection of the voids. Shokouhi
profile at a site. Due to the scattering of the Rayleigh and Gucunski (2003) used wavelet analysis of the surface
waves by the heterogeneities, analytical description is responses to correlate the width of the high-energy region
to the size of the void. Methods discussed above do not introduced into a medium from a circular plate propagates
consider the embedment depth of the void and are based as surface waves. Signal processing techniques such as
on the changes of the surface responses. Nasseri- Fourier analysis, phase velocity, and dispersion curve
Moghaddam et al. (2007) developed techniques that are used in the analysis of numerical and experimental results
useful in locating the void and estimating its embedment are presented next.
depth. For the representation of time domain signal into
Recently, a new methodology by authors (Ali.H, 2015), frequency domain, Fourier transform is used. The Fourier
to understand the wave-anomaly interaction on surface transform decomposes a time domain signal into a
responses is used by dividing the array of receivers into spectrum of frequency components. In time domain, it is
three sections, before, on-top, and after the void. Nine possible to determine the duration and amplitude of the
numerical models were analyzed in time and frequency signal, the arrival time, and in some cases the attenuation
domains. Dispersion curves were analyzed and the study of the vibration, whereas the frequency domain analysis
showed that the change in the phase velocity (function of show the amplitude and the phase of each frequency
frequency) is between 3% to 50% for different void width component in the signal. Both type of analysis are used in
and depths. the MASW method. The Fourier transform can be
However, the application of the MASW method for computed in one or two dimensions. The 1D Fourier
void detection is usually limited to shallow depths, mostly transform for a time signal x(t) is given as:
due to difficulties of generating long wavelengths with
high signal-to-noise ratios, and partly because of the lack 𝑁𝑁

of understanding of the interaction of the embedded voids 𝑋𝑋(𝑘𝑘Δ𝑓𝑓) = � 𝑥𝑥(𝑗𝑗Δ𝑡𝑡)𝑒𝑒 −𝑖𝑖(2𝜋𝜋𝜋𝜋Δ𝑓𝑓)𝑗𝑗Δ𝑡𝑡 [1]
and the Rayleigh waves. In general, these studies show a 𝑗𝑗=1
good agreement between numerical simulation and
experimental results. Considering the methodologies where Δt and Δf are the discrete steps in time and
presented in the literature this paper presents laboratory frequency domain, while, j and k are counters. N is the
scale tests to show the effect of wavelength in detection total length of the time signal and i is the imaginary unit.
of MASW tests. The phase spectrum of X(f) is given by:
In this paper, the interaction of different wavelengths
with an anomaly is studied on a sandbox using a 𝐼𝐼𝐼𝐼[𝑋𝑋(𝑘𝑘Δ𝑓𝑓)]
laboratory MASW testing methods. The test setup 𝜙𝜙(𝑘𝑘Δ𝑓𝑓) = 𝑡𝑡𝑡𝑡𝑡𝑡−1 � � [2]
𝑅𝑅𝑅𝑅[𝑋𝑋(𝑘𝑘Δ𝑓𝑓)]
consists of surface wave measurements for two lines (no
void and void) using piezoelectric accelerometers and where Re[ ] and Im [ ] are the real and imaginary
state-of-art laser vibrometer. Twelve accelerometers were components respectively. Using the phase information,
used for surface measurements of particle acceleration; the phase velocity V ph at any frequency f can be given as:
whereas for non-contact laser measurements of particle
displacements 96 recordings were taken. This unique Δ𝑥𝑥
study shows for the first time the effects of the mass of 𝑉𝑉𝑝𝑝ℎ = 2𝜋𝜋𝜋𝜋 = 𝜆𝜆𝜆𝜆 [3]
Δ𝜙𝜙
the accelerometers on wave propagation measurements.
The MASW laboratory test results showed the effect of
In Equation [3], Δx and Δϕ are the distance and phase
the frequency range on the calculation of the dispersion
difference between two receivers, respectively.
curve in the presence of an anomaly and the issue of
coupling of geophone/transducer in laboratory surface
2.2 Multi-channel Analysis of Surface Waves (MASW)
waves testing is identified as a critical issue.
The multi-channel analysis of surface wave (MASW) is a
non-destructive technique used for evaluation of shear
2 REVIEW OF MASW TEST AND MATHEMATICAL
wave velocity profile. MASW is an extension of SASW
BACKGROUND
method based on the work by Nazarian et al. (1984). It
utilizes several transducers for computation of
This section begins with a brief mathematical review and
underground responses. The approach of using several
then presents a review of the MASW testing method.
transducers effectively allow the removal of noise and
help in identification of higher order Rayleigh wave modes
2.1 Mathematical Background
(Park et al., 1999). As Rayleigh, waves are confined to
the near surface of the ground, therefore low energy
In an elastic half-space, two types of waves are generated
seismic source is usually recommended for lab and field
due to mechanical disturbance: body waves and surface
tests.
waves. Body waves (P and S) propagate along a
Rayleigh waves are dispersive in nature and
hemispherical wave front from the source while surface
dispersion of the Rayleigh waves are used in the
waves (Love and Rayleigh) propagate along a cylindrical
evaluation of the sub-surface stiffness profiles. Since the
wave front. As the wave travel outward, the energy
stiffness of the soil usually increases with the depth, the
density in each wave decreases with distance from the
depth to which the Rayleigh wave causes significant
source. The partition of the energy between body and
displacement increases with increasing the wavelength.
surface waves is a function of the frequency of excitation.
Low frequency (long wavelength) propagates faster than
For low excitation frequencies, two-thirds of the energy
high frequency (short wavelength). Thus it can be
concluded that penetration depth of Rayleigh wave is where the measurement was done. This shows the
inversely proportional to its frequency. Usually, maximum importance of calibration in laboratory ultrasonic testing.
penetration depth is considered to be one wavelength in
field and laboratory. Frequency spectra and dispersion
curve (phase velocity profile) for a site are obtained from
the time domain signals. These dispersion curves can be
inverted to estimate the shear-modulus profile of the
medium (Stoke et al., 1988).
For low energy seismic sources, sledgehammer is
commonly used in the industry. Mechanical harmonic
sources and passive sources such as ambient noise and
micro-tremors have also been used. The source should
be able to yield enough energy over the required test
frequency range to allow the detection of Rayleigh waves
above background noise. Velocity transducers
(geophones) are used to collect the surface responses in
the low frequency range (4 Hz to 100 Hz); whereas,
accelerometers are used for higher frequencies (100 Hz
to 5000 Hz) (Cascante et al., 2006). The distance
between the source and first receiver determines the
largest reliable wavelength in the measurements. On the
other hand, the distance between the transducers and the
sampling rate determine the smallest reliable wavelength.
A common practice is to choose a source to receiver
distance equal to at least twice the maximum required
wavelength (Hiltunen and Woods, 1989).

3 EXPERIMENTAL TEST SETUP AND


METHODOLOGY

This section presents the experimental methodology for


the MASW test on sandbox using accelerometers and
laser vibrometer. The section begins with the results and
methodology of the calibration of the input source. Figure
1 shows the MASW testing setup for the hammer and
laser measurements.

3.1 Calibration of input source

The source time traces and frequency spectrum are


shown on Figure 2. The Figure show the values of mean
and one standard deviation values from seven shots. The
low variation from the mean show the accuracy of the
shots. The pulse duration is Tp = 1 ms. The main
frequency content in this case is between 0 and 2 kHz
with peak at 0.25 kHz, thereafter, its magnitude
decreases with frequency. For f = 0.95 kHz, the pulse
amplitude is reduced to 50% (-6db). Considering R-wave
velocity of 1000 m/s for the cemented sandbox material,
the wavelength generated in this case is 1.3 m. This
shows the importance of correct source for geotechnical
site characterization. Figure 1: MASW testing setup for the hammer and laser
For the calibration of transmitter, laser measurements. Top figure shows the test configuration
vibrometer is used. In A square pulse signal of 50 Hz is for accelerometer and hammer. The bottom figure shows
used as an input source. Piezoelectric transmitter with a the schematic of the laser testing.
resonant frequency of 54 kHz is used. Calibration of
transmitter using laser vibrometer showed that the
resonance frequency of the transmitter is 48 kHz instead
of 54 kHz as shown in Figure 3. The shift of resonance
frequency to a lower value could be due to small disc
attached, at the center, on the surface of transmitter
two layers of material; one cemented sand (23 cm thick)
overlain by dry sand (55 cm thick). The Rayleigh wave
velocities of the cemented sand is 1000 m/s while for the
dry sand it is 240 m/s.
Two lines of survey lines, Line 1 and Line 2 each
having 20, high frequency, accelerometers (Dytran
3056B5 - flat response between 10 Hz and 10 kHz) are
placed at a spacing of 0.02 m on the sandbox; thus the
total length of array is 0.48 m. The data was collected
using a 24-channel data acquisition system (GEN 7t,
Genesis). The output voltage of the accelerometer is
proportional to the acceleration with an average sensitivity
factor of 500 mV/g. To improve the coupling between the
surface of sandbox and accelerometer, a steel plate with
magnet is glued to the surface and then accelerometers
are connected through the magnet.
For this study, a new methodology for the geo-
materials is used by using state-of-art laser vibrometer.
For the same length of array length of 0.48 meter, 96
Figure 2: Time and Fourier spectra for input source in a recording points were measured at a distance of 5 mm.
sandbox test. a) and c) shows mean and one standard The distance between the recording points is typically
deviation values for line 1 while b) and d) presents values used in numerical simulations (Reference). The LDV
for line 2. employed is OFV 534 (manufactured by Polytec Inc). The
LDV contains a Helium-Neon laser delivering its 633 nm
laser light via an optical fiber to a high precision
interferometer in the vibrometer head. The laser light
splits into a measurement beam and a reference beam.
The measurement beam is incident on the test object.
The back scattered light is shifted slightly in frequency by
the Doppler effect and contains the displacement and
velocity information. The Doppler-shifted frequency is
converted to a voltage that indicates actual vibrations.
Since, the velocity is directly converted to frequency shift;
there is neither the mechanical nor the electrical coupling
between the materials surface vibration and the observed
signal. The Doppler signal is decoded in the controller
(OFV-2570) with two different signal decoders,
displacement and velocity. The bandwidth of velocity
decoder is up to 10 MHz while for displacement decoder
is up to 24 MHz. Both decoders can be operated
simultaneously with separate outputs and enable
measurement of vibration velocities up to 3 m/s (peak)
and displacements up to ±75 nm.

4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Figure 3 shows the time traces for no-void and void


cases. The arrival times of P-waves and surface or
Rayleigh waves are marked on the figure. In Figure 3b,
the change in the surface wave velocity is seen after
Figure 3: Time and Fourier spectra of transmitter using receiver 10. The velocity changes from 1150 m/s to 952
laser vibrometer in air. m/s, respectively. Reflections from the near and far
boundary of the void are visible. In both cases, the
3.2 Experimental methodology reflections from the sandbox boundaries are observed.
Figure 4, presents the 1D Fourier transform for the no-
Figure 1 shows the MASW testing setup for the hammer void and void case. The main frequency content is
and laser measurements. The top figure shows the test between 0.5 and 8 kHz. In Figure 4b, the frequency
configuration for accelerometer and hammer. The bottom content of receiver 10 is shifted to lower frequencies with
figure shows the schematic of the laser testing. In both peak at 3 kHz. Amplification of energy at 6.5 kHz for
cases two lines of MASW is done for the no-void and void receiver 9 and 14 are likely due to reflections from the
cases. The source is offset at 10 cm from the first void.
accelerometer. The cross-section of the sandbox show
Figure 5, shows the time and frequency traces from the
laser test for line 1. The Rayleigh wave velocity from the
time traces is 1074 m/s which is less than the velocity
obtained from the previous tests. The frequency spectrum
shows single frequency at 49 kHz, corresponds to
wavelength of 2.5 cm.
The time traces and Frequency spectra for the
void case are shown in Figure 6. The change in arrival
time of surface waves from due to the interaction with the
void is clearly seen in this figure. Similarly, the frequency
spectrum shows the variation of the energy due to the
interaction of void. Shift in frequency can be observed at
0.15 m from the first receiver and after 0.3 m from the first
receiver. The time traces and frequency spectra shown
using hammer were not able to distinguish clearly the
show the change in energy due to interaction with void as
from the results of the laser.
Results of the time and frequency analysis
shows the changes in the time signals and frequency
content due to the change in the source frequency. The
large variation in the frequency spectrum values for the
two sources reinforces the importance of selection of
correct source for MASW testing.

Figure 4: time traces for a) Line 1 and b) Line 2. P-waves


and R-waves velocity are marked.

a)

b)

Figure 3: time traces for a) Line 1 and b) Line 2. P-waves


and R-waves velocity are marked.

Figure 5: time traces for a) Line 1 and b) frequency


spectrum from the laser vibrometer test.
case based on curve fit are -0.16 and -0.17, respectively.
The peak between the 19 cm and 24 cm is likely because
a) of the void and reflections from the void boundaries.

b)

Figure 6: a) time traces and b) frequency spectrum for


Line 2 from the laser vibrometer test. Figure 7: Dispersion curves for a) Line 1 and Line 2 from
sandbox text. and b) normalized dispersion curve showing
Figure 7 and 8, shows the dispersion curves for the no- the change in the phase velocity due to the interaction
void and void cases from the hammer source and laser; with the void as a function of frequency. In b) the change
which are averaged values using the Gaussian in the phase velocity and frequency is identified.
smoothing. The dispersion curves are obtained using a
commercially available software SWAN (SWAN, 2010).
Figure 7b and 8b shows the dispersion curve normalized
with respect to no-void dispersion curve as a function of
frequency.
From the dispersion curves using hammer
source, it can be seen a change in the dispersion curve
with peak frequency at 3.5 kHz and phase velocity lower
between 3 and 5 kHz. Compared to hammer source, the
laser vibrometer shows the opposite trend with phase
velocity increasing then between 22 kHz and 40 kHz. This
trend is opposite to the dispersion curve from
accelerometer test showing that the trend from laser is
because of P-wave vibrations. Using the dispersion curve
in Figure 7, the wavelength, λ = V/f = 890/3500 = 0.25 m.
Based on the studies presented by Ali (2015), the void
can be detected if the void is within 1/3rd of the
wavelength. Now, for the present study, 1/3 λ = 0.25/3 =
0.08m = 8 cm. The depth of 8 cm matches with the known
depth of the void.
Finally, the attenuation of surface waves with
distance is presented in Figure 9. The attenuation curves
are evaluated from the area of the frequency spectrum for
the frequency range between 0 and 70 kHz. This is
selected because the energy after 70 kHz is almost zero.
Results show the trend of attenuation of surface waves
with distance. The exponents for the void and no-void
Figure 8: Dispersion curves for a) Line 1 and Line 2 from effect of accelerometer affects the frequency content of
sandbox text using laser vibrometer. b) normalized the signal.
dispersion curve showing the change in the phase
velocity due to the interaction with the void as a function
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