Studies for urban hazard or resource assessment often take place in densely populated areas characterized by considerable cultural noise. These site conditions can severely compromise seismic reflection data quality. We have collected vibroseis and hammer (weight drop) seismic reflection data in a range of geologic conditions to image stratigraphy and structures in the upper one km along regional highways, city streets,and power line access roads. In addition to the challenges of safety and outreach, acquisition efforts along busy streets and highways often encounter poor receiver coupling and large-amplitude coherent noise from traffic and power lines. Although higher quality seismic reflection data may be obtained by simply choosing alternate sites with less cultural noise, modifications to the acquisition and processing step scan minimize the effects of cultural noise and poor coupling where profiling is most relevant. Flagging crews, flyers and public announcements assist with outreach and safety concerns, and the local news media are often enthusiastic about publicizing geologic studies. Recording long-record vibroseis data reduces the effects of noise by itself,but data quality can be further optimized by recording uncorrelated,unstacked data and applying precorrelation amplitude adjustments and filters. Recording individual hammer shots likewise allows gains or mutes to normalize or remove traffic noise prior to vertical stacking. Large numbers of receiver channels allow attenuation of random noise and velocity filtering to remove coherent noise. Because ground roll and normal moveout (NMO) corrections minimize near-surface coverage, asymmetric source-receiver geometry allows for additional near-surface fold while muting large amplitude ground rolland NMO stretch. Source and geophone coupling on road shoulder scan degrade signal quality due to variable materials and topography,but these problems are often addressed with static corrections. Our experience is that high-quality seismic data can be obtained in noisy urban areas, but many recorded channels and a careful attention to acquisition and processing procedures can significantly improve the results.
This document was originally published by Society of Exploration Geophysicists in Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.4133/1.2923684
Liberty, Lee M.; Pratt, Thomas L.; and Hess, Scott S.. (2006). "Seeing Through the Noise: Seismic Reflection Profiling in Urban Areas". Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, 19492-498.