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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 39(1)

Case studies of shallow marine investigations in Australia with advanced underwater seismic refraction (USR)

Robert J. Whiteley 1 2, Simon B. Stewart 1

1 Coffey Geotechnics Pty Ltd., 8/12 Mars Rd., Lane Cove West, NSW 2066, Australia.
2 Corresponding author. Email: bob_whiteley@coffey.com
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Underwater seismic refraction with advanced interpretation approaches makes important contributions to shallow marine exploration and geotechnical investigations in Australia’s coastal areas. A series of case studies are presented to demonstrate the recent applications of continuous and static USR methods to river crossing and port infrastructure projects at various sites around Australia.

In Sydney, static underwater seismic refraction (USR) with bottom-placed receivers and borehole seismic imaging assisted the development of improved geotechnical models that reduced construction risk for a tunnel crossing of the Lane Cove River.

In Melbourne, combining conventional boomer reflection and continuous USR with near-bottom sources and receivers improved the definition of a buried, variably weathered basalt flow and assisted dredging assessment for navigation channel upgrades at Geelong Ports.

Sand quality assessment with continuous USR and widely spaced borehole information assisted commercial decisions on available sand resources for the reclamation phase of development at the Port of Brisbane.

Buried reefs and indurated layers occur in Australian coastal sediments with the characteristics of laterally limited, high velocity, cap layers within lower velocity materials. If these features are not recognised then significant error in depth determination to deeper refractors can occur. Application of advanced refraction inversion using wavefront eikonal tomography to continuous USR data obtained along the route of a proposed offshore pipeline near Fremantle allowed these layers and the underlying bedrock refractor to be accurately imaged. Static USR and the same interpretation approach was used to image the drowned granitic regolith beneath sediments and indurated layers in the northern area of Western Australia at a proposed new berthing site where deep piling was required. This allowed preferred piling sites to be identified, reducing overall pile lengths.

USR can be expected to find increased application to shallow marine exploration and geotechnical investigations in Australia’s coastal areas as economic growth continues and improved interpretation methods are developed.

Keywords: seismic, refraction, underwater, ports, harbours, rivers, case studies.

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