Use of Seismic Refraction in the Characterization of Alluvial Aquifers

Horacio Ferriz
,
California State University Stanislaus
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Summary

1. Objectives
- Introduce the physical principles behind the method of seismic refraction
- Demonstrate basic field procedures followed in seismic refraction surveys
- Practice the techniques of seismic data interpretation with basic sample sets

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Context

Audience

I use this exercise in my courses:
1. Hydrogeology
2. Geophysical Exploration

Designed for a geophysics course
Integrates geophysics into a core course in geology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

There is assigned reading on the seismic refraction method, and a couple of PowerPoint slides to explain the basics.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise which comes late in the Hydrogeology class, and early in the Geophysical Exploration class.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

- Introduce the physical principles behind the method of seismic refraction

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

- Practice the techniques of seismic data interpretation with basic sample sets

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

The seismic refraction method allows us to calculate the propagation velocity of elastic waves through a stack of two or three geologic units (and from this we can make an educated guess as to the nature of each geologic unit), and to determine the depth to the interface between the units (for example, the depth to the interface between the unsaturated zone above and the saturated zone below, which is called . . . the water table!).
Addresses student fear of quantitative aspect and/or inadequate quantitative skills
Uses geophysics to solve problems in other fields

Determining whether students have met the goals

Lab report.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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