Marine Geophysics, Geotechnical and Sonar Specialists
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Surface Waves for Geotechnical Properties

A Surface wave can best be described as a seismic wave that travels along an interface. In this case, the interface is the water - sediment boundary (seafloor). An analogous wave type can be seen in ocean swells. Here we can see the ocean swells change as they approach the shoreline (a change in boundary conditions). Similar to this, surface waves on the seafloor represent and change with the material below in the sub-bottom. The surface wave velocity and frequency along the seabed interface represent the character of the seafloor and sub-bottom.

Since surface waves are a "fundamental" seismic mode, they are easily identified with the use of seafloor sensors and a seismic source. The figure below shows a seismic record hi-lighting the surface wave mode: