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ASTM D5777-00

Standard Guide for Using the Seismic Refraction Method for Subsurface Investigation

1.1 Purpose and Application -This guide summarizes the equipment, field procedures, and interpretation methods for the assessment of subsurface materials using the seismic refraction method. Seismic refraction measurements as described in this guide are applicable in mapping subsurface conditions for various uses including geologic, geotechnical, hydrologic, environmental, mineral exploration, petroleum exploration, and archaeological investigations. The seismic refraction method can sometimes be used to map geologic conditions including depth to bedrock, or to water table, lithology, structure, and fractures or all of these. The calculated seismic wave velocity is related to mechanical material properties. Therefore, characterization of the material (type of rock, degree of weathering, and rippability) can sometimes be made on the basis of seismic velocity and other geologic information.

1.2 Limitations:

1.2.1 This guide provides an overview of the seismic refraction method using compressional ( ) waves. It does not address the details of the seismic refraction theory, field procedures, or interpretation of the data. Numerous references are included for that purpose and are considered an essential part of this guide. It is recommended that the user of the seismic refraction method be familiar with the relevant material within this guideline and the references provided.

1.2.2 This guide is limited to the commonly used approach to seismic refraction measurements made on land. The seismic refraction method can be adapted for a number of special uses, on land, within a borehole and on water. However, a discussion of these other adaptations of seismic refraction measurements is not included in this guide.

1.2.3 There are certain cases in which shear waves need to be measured to satisfy project requirements. The measurement of seismic shear waves is a subset of seismic refraction. This guide is not intended to include this topic and focuses only on wave measurements.

1.2.4 The approaches suggested in this guide for the seismic refraction method are most commonly used, widely accepted, and proven; however, other approaches or modifications to the seismic refraction method that are technically sound may be substituted.

1.2.5 Technical limitations and interferences of the seismic refraction method are discussed in 5.4.

1.3 Precautions:

1.3.1 It is the responsibility of the user of this guide to follow any precautions within the equipment manufacturer's recommendations, establish appropriate health and safety practices, and consider the safety and regulatory implications when explosives are used.

1.3.2 If the method is applied at sites with hazardous materials, operations, or equipment, it is the responsibility of the user of this guide to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of any regulations prior to use.

1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


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ASTM International [ASTM]


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