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In this paper, we introduce a portable hand streamer seismic system. The system is appropriate for characterizing the mechanical properties of geologic and engineered materials in the upper 5 to 10 m depth and for reflection imaging from tens to hundreds of meters depth. Unlike other seismic land streamer systems that are typically pulled behind a vehicle with a long string of geophones, our recording system and electric seismic source are contained within an electric utility cart to allow ease of mobility for a single operator. Our 48-channel contact-coupled streamer is tethered to the cart to enable low-effort data collection. Similar to a ground-penetrating radar system, this approach allows rapid data collection on roads, sidewalks, undeveloped paths, and native materials. Signal processing through standard surface- and body-wave approaches follows data collection. We present three case studies where we (1) map Quaternary and older strata to identify active faulting, (2) map shallow bedrock, and (3) identify the footprint of previous subsurface engineered structures. We suggest that this low-cost tool and approach can be used for decameter-scale subsurface site characterization in two or three dimensions. Future advances involve the integration of an autonomous vehicle with a fully programmable seismic source and wholly automated signal processing to enable real-time analysis of shallow seismic data.

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This document was originally published in The Leading Edge by Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Available for download on Saturday, February 01, 2025