SH-Mode Seismic-Reflection Imaging of Earthfill Dams

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4 Scopus citations


Assessing subsurface characteristics and imaging geologic features (e.g., faults, cavities, low-velocity layers, etc.) are typical problems in near-surface geophysics. These questions often have adverse geotechnical engineering implications, and can be especially acute when associated with high-hazard structures such as large earthen flood-control dams. Dam-related issues are becoming more frequent in the United States, because a large part of this major infrastructure was designed and constructed in the early- to mid-twentieth century; these dams are thus passing into the latter stages of their design life, where minute flaws that were overlooked or thought to be insignificant in design/construction are now proving problematic. The high-hydraulic heads associated with these structures can quicken degradation of weak areas and compromise long-term integrity. Addressing dam-related problems solely with traditional invasive drilling techniques is often inadequate (i.e., lack of lateral resolution) and/or economically exorbitant at this scale. However, strategic geotechnical drilling integrated with the broad utility of near-surface geophysics, particularly the horizontally polarized shear-wave (SH-mode) seismic-reflection technique for imaging the internal structural detail and geological foundation conditions of earthfill embankment dams can cost-effectively improve the overall subsurface definition needed for remedial engineering. Demonstrative evidence for this supposition is provided in the form of SH-wave seismic-reflection imaging of in situ and engineered as-built components of flood-control embankment dams at two example sites in the central United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-701
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Dam safety
  • Geophysics
  • Near-surface
  • Seismic reflection
  • Shear-wave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (all)
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering (all)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Engineering (all)


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