Crosshole Seismic Tomography and Borehole Logging for Engineering Site Characterization in Sikeston, MO, USA


This paper presents a geophysical investigation performed in the median separating the east and west bound lanes of U.S. Highway 60, approximately 15 km west from the town of Sikeston, MO, USA. Two boreholes, drilled at depth of 45 m, approximately located 6 m from the Wahite Ditch Bridge in U.S. Highway 60, were used to carry out the geophysical tests. The objective of the survey was to obtain the density distribution of soil materials and high-resolution compressional and shear wave velocities of the shallow subsurface for computation of elastic engineering properties of the unconsolidated material interposed between the two investigated boreholes.

The studied site is located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), one of the major seismic source zones in the eastern United States. Although no major seismic events have occurred in the New Madrid area since the catastrophic earthquakes of 1811-1812, more intensive studies in this area are required to better understand the local soil effects and the liquefaction potential of unconsolidated earth materials on strong ground motion.

Joint interpretation of borehole logs and velocity images obtained by P- and S-wave traveltime inversions outlined shallow anomalies, which were interpreted as caused by variation in relative porosity and compactness of saturated unconsolidated soil materials. In the interval between 17 and 19 m of depth, a velocity anomaly with distinct characteristics is recognized. Analysis of traveltimes of P-wave energy propagated from common source-receiver depth positions at that depth interval delineated a low velocity zone (lower than estimated P-wave velocity in water) in which propagated S-wave energy was negligible. Analysis of porosity logs did not outline any porosity anomaly for that region. The anomaly is interpreted as caused by the presence of a gas-bearing zone extending for 1.5 m (+0.76 m from the top and the bottom of the depth interval), through which propagation of shear energy was almost prevented and compressional energy traveled a very low speed. Relative lower values of shear modulus were computed for the gas-bearing zone; the same depth interval also exhibited relative lower values of bulk modulus, relative higher values of compressibility and relative high porosity. However, the low velocity anomaly is not caused by relative increased porosity but rather to replacement of water by gas in the pore volumes of this zone.

The presence of a shallow thin gas-bearing zone is interpreted as hazardous in the occurrence of strong motion in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Shallow water table, as detected by seismic and log measurements in the area, increases the risk of liquefaction of the sampled soil under strong ground motions.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Second Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


Missouri. Department of Transportation

Keywords and Phrases

New Madrid Seismic Zone; Crosshole Seismic Tomography; Elastic Engineering Properties of Soils

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2003 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2003


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