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Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock



3.1 Introduction
3.2 Insitu direct shear test
3.3 Insitu tests for deformability
3.3.1 Plate load test
3.3.2 Uniaxial jacking test
3.3.3 Pressuremeter tests
3.4 Insitu stress and their determination
3.4.1 Hydraulic fracturing
3.4.2 Flat jack test
3.4.3 Stress-relief technique
3.5 Geophysical investigation
3.5.1 Electric resistivity method
3.5.2 Seismic refraction method
3.2.3 Cross hole test

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock


Mechanical behaviour of rock mass cannot be determined purely from laboratory

tests. Large scale insitu tests are necessary for design consideration of major projects as
laboratory tests invariably lead to an overestimate of the properties of rock mass. The
prediction of engineering properties of the rock mass always insists insitu tests and is usually
considered to be the best means for determining the engineering properties of subsurface
materials and in many cases, it may be the only way to obtain meaningful results.
In-situ rock tests are performed to determine various field parameters e.g. in-situ stresses and
deformation properties of the rock/rock mass, shear strength of jointed rock mass or critically
weak seams within the rock mass, residual stresses within the rock mass, anchor capacities,
and rock mass permeability. Large-scaled and number of in-situ tests tend to average out the
effect of complex interactions. In-situ tests in rock are usually expensive. Well-conducted
tests may be useful in reducing overly conservative assumptions. Test site location and
loading direction is very important for the success of tests. Site investigation in rock include
tests like insitu stress determination, insitu test for deformability, insitu direct shear tests etc.

Figure 3.1: A typical drift for insitu tests

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Laboratory tests have the limitations like variability and sample disturbance. Also, testing is
done on small specimens and extrapolation of the measured properties for the entire site is
often challenging.
In contrast, insitu test provide the response of a larger mass under natural insitu condition.
The limitation includes poorly defined boundary condition, cost and time, approach and site
condition, non-uniform and high strain rates imposed during testing and inability to control
drainage condition etc. Despite these limitations insitu tests are most acceptable and essential
part of any geotechnical site investigation and design. Large scale insitu tests are necessary
for design consideration of major projects because laboratory tests invariably lead to an
overestimate of the properties of rock mass. Geotechnical investigation and design in rock
mass always insists insitu tests. Some important requirements of insitu tests,
• Test should affect a rockmass to the extent that it represents the behaviour of the
affected rockmass or zone
• Cost should be low without compromising quality
• Equipment used should be simple and compact
• Nearest to actual stress condition
• As per theory on which the test is based
• Load should be applied in the direction representing actual anticipated direction

Type and number of insitu tests usually depends upon the type of structure and its importance
and the rock strata condition. Insitu tests can be put in general following categories,
• Shear test
• Deformability tests
• Strength tests
• Tests for internal stresses

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock


The test is to find out the insitu cohesion and friction values and the method is
suggested in ISRM code, “Suggested Method for Insitu Determination of Direct Shear
Strength”. In this test, peak & residual direct shear strength are measured as a function of
stress normal to the sheared plane, on the same test horizon with each specimen tested at a
different normal stress keeping it constant for the particular observation. A typical schematic
diagram for the direct shear test for rock is shown in Figure 3.2. Figure 3.3 shows the picture
for an ongoing test in the field.

Various equipments required for the test, equipment for cutting & encapsulating the
test block- rock saws, drills, hammer & chisels, formwork of appropriate dimensions &
rigidity, expanded polystyrene sheeting & steel shear box (700 x 700 x 350 mm), equipment
for applying normal load usually hydraulic jacks, equipment for applying the shear force
usually hydraulic jacks, equipment for measuring the applied forces, pumps and pressure
gages and equipment for measuring shear, normal & lateral displacements.

Figure 3.2: Schematic diagram for insitu direct shear test

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Figure 3.3: Insitu shear box test setup in a drift (Courtesy: AIMIL Ltd. New Delhi)

The equations involved are as below, and the cohesion and friction may be calculated as
shown in Figure 3.4.
Shear Stress t MPa

S hear Str φp

ngth φr
s hear Stre
Cp φa ual
O Normal stress sn MPa

Where, φr = residual φriction angle, φp = peak φriction angle

φa = apparent φriction angle, C' = apparent cohesion
Cp= peak cohesion

Figure 3.4: Shear strength vs. normal stress plot

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Figure 3.5: Concrete casted on rock block cut insitu

Figure 3.6: Test setup for insitu rock direct shear test (Courtesy: AIMIL Ltd. New

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.7: Sheared rock blocks after turning

Shear Stress vs Deformation Graph

Shear Stress (MPa)



0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Deformtion ( mm)

Figure 3.8: A typical shear stress vs. shear displacement response of field direct shear
box test in rock.

Form the Figure 3.6, it can be seen that, the shear load is being applied at some inclination
(15o in the present case) to avoid any overturning moment generated on the rock block.
Inclination ensures that the resultant shearing force line passes through the centre point of the
block. The corresponding vertical component of the shear stress ( τ sin15O) may be
compensated as the shear progresses to ensure constant normal load throughout the test.

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Shear Stress vs Deformation Graph


Shear Stress (MPa)






0 5 10 15 20

Deformtion ( mm)

Figure 3.9: A typical shear stress vs. shear displacement response of field direct shear
box test at shear zone

Peak shear stress (MPa)

y = 0.8525x + 0.957
0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7
Normal stress (MPa)

Figure 3.10 : Determination of cohesion and friction with best fit line
(c= 0.96MPa and ϕ = 40o )

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Modulus of deformation is an essential parameter for the design of tunnels

underground chambers and related structures. In fact the deformability of the rock mass will
govern the strain conditions that develop around an excavation during its initial changes.
Therefore while designing a structure in or on rock mass, it is important to know the
deformability characteristic of the same: (a) to assess expected displacement during
excavation and subsequent monitoring to check stability and (b) to evaluate the correct design
of rock support measures that must be able to accommodate the expected deformation
without failure.

3.3.1 Plate Load Test

Deformability of rock mass is characterized by a modulus describing the relationship

between the applied load and the resulting deformation. Plate load test on rocks is for finding
the deformation modulus as rock mass usually doesn’t behave elastically. A schematic
diagram for the test setup for the plate load test is shown in figure 3.11. Figure 3.12 shows
the reaction platform and dead weight for plate load arrangement where as Figure 3.13 shows
the hydraulic jack assembly with dial gages..

Figure 3.11: Schematic diagram of plate load test showing test set-up
Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

The following test equipment are needed for the test,

1. Dead loading platform made up of steel beams and loaded by concrete cube to
achieve reaction (shown in figure 7).
2. Hydraulic Jack assembly capable of applying and releasing the load increments and
capable of maintaining the desired pressure to within 2 percent of a selected value
throughout the duration of test
3. Pump with calibrated pressure gauge.
4. Circular bearing plates of sizes 600 mm, 450 mm and 300mm with thickness 30 mm.
5. Settlements need to be recorded with precise dial gauges having least count of atleast

Figure 3.12: Reaction platform and dead weight for plate load arrangement
(Courtesy: AIMIL Ltd. New Delhi)

Deformation modulus (reloading) is estimated from loading response of last loading cycle.
Elastic modulus is estimated from last unloading cycle. Typical load-deformation response of
the rock is shown in figure 9. Modulus values are estimated based on Boussinesq solution for
a point load on infinite homogeneous, isotropic and linearly elastic material (IS7317:1993).
Equation is of the from,
Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

(1− m ) 2
δ A

E = Elastic/deformation modulus in kg/cm2
m = 0.96 for circular plate and 0.95 for square plate
δ = Incremental displacement (deformation or settlement) of bearing plate in one
loading cycle in cm
P = Incremental applied load in kg
A = Area of test plate in cm2
μ = Poisson’s ratio of rock mass

Figure 3.13: Plate load test setup in a pit: Hydraulic Jack assembly with dial gages
(Courtesy: AIMIL Ltd. New Delhi)

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock




Load (KN)





0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4
Deformation (mm)

Figure 3.14: Load deformation curve from a plate load test for a regular rock



Load (KN)




0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Deformation (mm)

Figure 3.15: Load deformation curve from plate load test at shear zone

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

3.3.2 Uniaxial Jacking Test

The test is conducted in drift in two directions (horizontal and vertical). Load is applied on
rigid plate in increments and displacement of plate and rock mass below the plate is measured
with multiple positions of borehole extensometers (MPBX) in reference to a base anchor.
Assuming rock mass homogeneous and semi-infinite, Boussinesq principle of stress
distribution under point load is applied. The observed displacements at various depths and
corresponding to the order of stress, values for modulus have been estimated. The test
methodology suggested by IS: 7317-1993 will be followed for determination of modulus of
deformation and elasticity. The salient aspects of these are given below.

Equipment & test set up:-

The following are main equipments used for Rigid Plate Loading Method
a. Test site preparation equipment: This will include excavation tools, such as drills and
chipping hammers.
b. Deformation Measuring Instrument: Hydraulic clamping multiple point borehole
extensometers and measuring equipment (Figure 3.18).
c. Loading Equipment: Hydraulic Jacks of applying load up to 150 tonnes and
maintaining within 3% of desired pressure with calibrated load gauge.

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.16: Test setup for uniaxial jacking test in a drift

Figure 3.17: Horizontal Uniaxial jacking tests in a drift

(Courtesy: AIMIL Ltd. New Delhi)

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.18: Vertical uniaxial jacking test and MPBX measurement

(Courtesy: AIMIL Ltd. New Delhi)

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Figure 3.19: Uniaxial jacking test setup showing MPBX location

Installation and testing:-

The test surface need to be prepared carefully such that causing minimal damage to
the finished rock surface and loose rock removed from test surface. Concrete pad of loading
plate size has to be prepared to get firm contact in between plate and rock. At center of test
surface drillhole of NX-76 mm required to be drilled and MPBX at different depths has to be
installed. The test need to be carried out after allowing sufficient time for setting of cement
mortar provided between the steel plates and prepared rock faces. The rigid plate has to be
loaded in minimum of six increment-decrement cycles and corresponding deformation is
recorded. Data observed during the test is entered in standard data sheet for estimation of
From observed load vs. deformations for various depths deformation modulus, reloading
modulus and elastic modulus of rock mass at various depths will be estimated assuming an

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

appropriate value of poisons ratio based on the complimentary inputs from Lab based
For a uniformly distributed pressure on a circular area having a central hole, the displacement
at any point beneath the center of the area is expressed as follows,

δ = Displacement in the direction of the applied pressure at point of interest
Z= Distance of point of interest from the loaded surface
ρ= Pressure or stress at loaded surface
R 1 , R 2 = Inner and outer radius of plate
m = Poisson’s ratio of the rock mass (assumed 0.25)
E d = Modulus of deformation

By using the above equation, the displacement at a given depth (1 and 2 say) may be
expressed as ,

So the deformation modulus of the rock mass in between point 1 and 2 is expressed as,


Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock



3.3.3 Pressuremeter Tests

A pressuremeter is a field test to measure the “at-rest horizontal earth pressure” and
soil/soft rock modulus. Louis Menard from France in 1955 was the first brought the
pressuremeter to the forefront. This test is very useful for many geotechnical applications
• Bearing capacity of shallow and deep foundations
• Settlement of all types of foundations
• Deformation of laterally loaded piles and sheet piles
• Resistance of anchors
Pressuremeter test is performed by applying pressure to the sidewalls of the borehole. It
consists of two units, one readout unit that rests on the ground surface and a probe that is
inserted into the borehole. Once the probe is at the test depth, the guard cells are inflated to
brace the probe in place. Then the measuring cell is pressurized with water, inflating its
flexible rubber bladder, which exerts a pressure on the borehole wall. As the pressure in the
measuring cell increases, the borehole walls deform. The pressure within the measuring cell
is held constant for approximately 60 seconds and the increase in volume required to
maintain the constant pressure is recorded.

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.20: Pressuremeter setup and pressure control system

Figure 3. 21: Plot of pressure versus total cavity volume

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The pressuremeter modulus, E p , of the soil is determined with the use of the theory of
expansion of an infinitely thick cylinder.



µ s = Poisson’s ratio (which may be assumed to be 0.33).

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock


There is always a pre-existing stress in the rock sites and during excavation the stress
state may change dramatically. Engineering. analysis requires boundary condition and insitu
stress is one of the most important boundary conditions for the analysis of underground
One should have a basic knowledge of stress state and need to understand the direction and
magnitude of the major principal stress, the direction in which the rock is most likely to fail.



STRESSES excavation, mining

Gravitational stresses Tectonic stresses Residual stresses Terrestrial stresses

Diagenesis, metamorphism, magma Seasonal temperature variation, tidal
cooling stresses etc.

Active tectonic stresses Remnant tectonic


Broad scale Local scale

Figure 3.22: Classification of rock stresses

Figure 3.23: Different sources of tectonic stresses

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Vertical stress component is assumed to increase with depth due to the weight of the
overburden. As a rule of thumb taking average density of rock into account, 40m of
overburden induces approximately 1MPa stress. The horizontal principal stress is around one
3rd of the vertical principal stress, considering the equation below.
σH = σV
1− ν

Figure 3.24: Worldwide trend for vertical stress with respect to depth

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Figure 3.25: Ratio of horizontal and vertical insitu stress with respect to depth,
worldwide trend

Figure 3.26: World stress map

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There are method available for instu stress determination,

• Hydraulic fracturing
• FLAT Jack testing
• Stress relief technique
• Strain recovery methods
• Borehole breakout method
• Indirect methods, fault slip data analysis, Kaiser effect, measurement of residual
stresses etc.

3.5.1 Hydraulic fracturing

The objective of the hydraulic fracturing is to define the state of stress in the rock ambience
at desired depth and requires lots of instrumentation. Codal provisions for the hydraulic
fracturing tests have been given in IS 13946 (Part-1):1994. However, the technique used
marginally modified using re-opening of pre-existing fractures.

Figure 3.27: Schematic Representation of Hydro-Fracture (HTPF) Test

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Hydraulic fracturing involves the isolation of part of a borehole using an inflatable straddle
packer (Figure 3.27) and the subsequent pressurization of the borehole until the pre-existing
fracture opens. During a hydraulic fracture of preexisting fracture test, pressure versus time is
recorded. The magnitude of the stress component normal to fracture plane can be determined
desired on the analysis of time history of closing/opening of the pre-existing joint/fracture
obtained through specially designed test. The magnitude of the major and secondary principle
stress can be calculated from relationships involving the fracture re-opening pressure and the
strength attributes of the tested rock joint. An impression packer is used to determine the
orientation of the fracture in the borehole. This in turn, gives the orientation of the major
secondary principal stress in the plane normal to the borehole axis. An impression packer
consists of an inflatable element wrapped with the replaceable soft rubber film. When the
packer is inflated, the film is extruded into the fracture.

The following equipment and accessories required for the test,

1. Packer elements: To seal the test section
2. Water pumps: To apply fracture opening pressure
3. Flow-meter: To record flow of water w.r.t. time
4. Pressure Transducers: to monitor pressure of fracturing fluid in test interval w.r.t.
5. X-T Recorder:
6. Borehole impression packer, to get the orientation of fracture
7. Geological compass

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.28: A typical pressure versus time recording of a hydraulic fracturing


In calculating the insitu stresses the shut in pressure (P s ) is assumed to be equal to the minor
horizontal stress σ h . The major horizontal stress σ H is then found from the break down
pressure (Pc’ or PB ). In the calculation, the break down pressure has to overcome the minor
horizontal principal stress (concentrated three times by the presence of the bore hole) and
overcome the insitu tensile strength of rock, whereas, it is assisted by the tensile component
of the major horizontal principal stress. The corresponding equations involved are mentioned
below. Here, P r and P o respectively represent the fracture re-opening pressure and pore
pressure respectively. Once the magnitude of the insitu stresses are determined, the direction
of the same can be evaluated using impression packer units.

σh = Ps
σH = 3 σh - Pc’ - Po + σt
σt = Pc’ - Pr
σH = 3 σh – Pr - Po

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock


σh Hole

3σh 3σh


Figure 3.29: Major and minor principal stresses on a bore hole subjected to
hydraulic fracturing.

Figure 3.30: Hydrofracturing control unit with Impression packer with impression of
fracture captured (Courtesy: Aimil Ltd. , New Delhi.)

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

3.5.2 Flat Jack Test

A flat jack is comprised of two metal sheets placed together and welded around their
periphery. A feeder tube inserted in the middle allows the flat jack to be pressurized with oil
or water. The flat jack method involves the placement of two pins fixed into the wall of an
excavation. The distance ‘d’ is then measured accurately. A slot is cut into the rock between
the pins. If the normal stress is compressive, the pins will move together as the slot is cut .
The flat jack is then placed and grouted into the slot.
On pressurizing the flat jack, the pins will move apart. It is assumed that when the pin
separation distance reaches the value it had before the slot was cut, the force exerted by the
slot is the same as that exerted by the pre-existing normal stress.
Principle of this test is to relief of stress and its recovery by means of hydraulic
pressure. A narrow slit (35-50mm) is cut. Prior to that deformation measuring pins are fixed
into the narrow holes drilled into the rock. Due to construction of slot, stress relief takes
place. A hydraulic flat jack (Figure 3.31) is inserted and inflated till the pins returns to the pre
slot values.

The main limitation of the Flat Jack test are

• minimum 6 number of tests to be required at different locations
• the size of the flat jack in relation to the size of the rock mass
• assumption of elastic recovery,
• error due to stress concentration/redistribution due to driving of tunnels and
• the test cannot be carried out at appreciable depth from rock surface.

Assumptions- Involves following assumptions

• The cutting of the slot causes change in stress distribution in the rock which in turn
produces a corresponding strain or displacement at the gauge points.
• The strain and displacement produced by pressure in the flat jack at cancellation
pressures equal and opposite to that developed as a result of cutting the slot.

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

• The application of cancellation pressure by flat jack restores the initial stress field in
the rock around the slot and the cancellation pressure is therefore equal the initial
stress existing within the rock.
• Values of the deformation modulus E and Poisson's ratio (μ) has been assumed to be
the same in all directions.
• Error due to stress concentrations due to driving of tunnels are negligible.

Figure 3.31: Flat Jacks and flat jack test for insitu stress determination in a tunnel

Figure 3.32: Schematic diagram of FLAT jack testing

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.33: Pin separation versus time graph to evaluate cancellation pressure

Figure 3.34: Schematic representation of stresses during a flat jack testing

For the compressive stress system S and Q existing within the rock prior to slot cutting,

S = F1 . P + F2 . Q

where, F 1 and F 2 are constants and their values can be taken as 0.815 and 0.064 respectively,
for a slot length (2c) = 33cm, flat jack length ( 2c) = 30 cm, slot width (2y o ) = 4.0cm, gauge
length ( 2y ) = 25 cm and Poisson’s ratio (μ) ranging from 0 15 to 0.25. The above equation
involves two unknowns, namely, S and Q and as such the flat jack tests are carried out in two
directions, normal to each other so as to formulate a set of two equations. These equations
shall then be solved for the values of S and Q. If P h and P v are the cancellation pressures in
horizontal and vertical slot direction respectively, then,

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

In order to determine the principal stresses at least three tests shall be carried out at one site in
three orthogonal planes. The test shall be carried out at the same site but in the zone not
influenced by any previous test. For this, tests should be carried out at a distance of more than
three times the length of the slot from the centre of the slot along its length.

3.5.3 Stress-relief technique

Stress relief technique, also known as over-coring or bore hole strain measuring technique.
Using this, the magnitude and directions of the three principal stresses acting at a point can be
known, which means an absolute stress measurement. In this method, the rock element
containing the strain measuring device is relieved from the stress imposed by the surrounding
rock and the resulting strains are measured which help in determination of stresses known by
stress-strain relation (Figure 3.35). The basic instrumentation needed are electrical strain
gages, bore hole deformation meter, bore hole inclusion stress meter and bore hole strain
gauge devices.

Figure 3.35: Schematic diagram explaining stress-relief technique

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Insitu tests are essential component for any geotechnical design and provide the response of a
larger mass under natural insitu condition. The extent of investigation could vary from a
limited effort where the rock mass is very good to a very extensive and detailed where the
rock mass is highly disturbed. Usually it is always advisable to carry out certain minimum
number of insitu test to ensure that weak zones are not present in the site. The insitu site
investigation is a costly affair and proper test location is necessary to optimize the number of
insitu tests. Proper care is needed while conducting the tests to ensure good representative
values for the site and estimate correct design parameters.

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock



In geophysical methods of site investigation, the application of the principles of physics are
used to the study of the ground. The soil/rock have different characteristics and comprised of
materials that have different physical properties. Using some geophysical instruments, it is
possible to map the ground characteristics together with their spatial variations. In this brief
notes, an overview of the commonly adopted geophysical techniques used in geotechnical
site investigation are discussed. The geophysical techniques which are discussed are,
electrical resistivity method, seismic refraction technique, cross hole technique and ground
penetrating radar (GPR).

3.6.1 Electric resistivity method

Electrical resistivity is the resistance of a volume of material to the flow of electrical

current. current is introduced into the ground through a pair of current electrodes resulting
potential difference is measured between another pair of potential electrodes. Apparent
resistivity is then calculated as,

V is the measured Potential difference (in Volts) and I is the current introduced (in Amperes).

Figure 3.36: Electrical resistivity arrangement and cumulative resisvity plot

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

There are two different arrangements are possible with the four electrodes to be used. In
Wenner aarrangements, the electrodes are kept at equal distances where as, in case of
Schumberger arrangements, distances are different.
Using Wenner arrangement arrangement the resistivity is given by

Using Schumberger arrangement the resistivity is given by,

Figure 3.37: Wenner aarrangement

Figure 3.38: Schumberger arrangement

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.39: A typical circuit for resistivity determination and electrical field for a
homogeneous sub surface stratum

Table 3.1: Resistivity of Different strata

Material Resistivity (ohm.m)
Sand 500-1500
Clay, saturated silt 0-100
Clayey sand 200-500
Gravel 1500-4000
Weathered rock 1500-2500
Sound rock >5000

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Advantages and limitations,

Method can be used to determine the depth and thickness of subsurface layers, depth
to the water table, and bedrock. Profiling can be used to detect and locate contaminant
plumes. Resistivity values can be used to estimate geological formations. The resistivity data
are sometimes ambiguous and proper interpretation is required. Method may be better
supplemented with other investigation methods like boreholes etc. Electrical resistivity is
slow because electrodes must be driven into the ground between measurements. Alignment
with buried electrical power lines, utilities and fences must be avoided as the current injected
into the ground will flow more easily through the metal feature. Data are influenced by near
surface conductive layers. The current will always travel most easily along highly conductive
layers. If the surface is highly conductive it may not be possible to collect data below the top

3.6.2 Seismic refraction method

Seismic refraction method is based on the measurement of the travel time of seismic
waves refracted at the interfaces between subsurface layers of different velocity. Seismic
energy is provided by a source (hammer, weight drop or small explosive charge) located on
the surface. The seismic waves travel through the subsurface at a velocity dependent on the
density of the soil/rock. When the seismic wave front encounters an interface where seismic
velocity drastically increases, a portion of the wave critically refracts at the interface,
travelling laterally along higher velocity layers. Due to compression stresses along the
interface boundary, a portion of the wave front returns to the surface. A series of seismic
receivers, geophones (right) are laid out along the survey line at regular intervals and receive
the reflected wave energy.

• The test involves the measurement of travel times of P-and S-waves from an impulse
source to a linear array of points along the ground surface at different distances from
the source.
• The output of all of the receivers recorded when the impulse load is triggered.

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.40: Seismic Refraction Testing

• The arrival times of the first waves to reach each receiver are determined and plotted
as a function of source-receiver distance.
• Used for determination of wave velocity and thickness of each layer, and the dip
• Effective for sites at which layers velocities increase with depth.

Figure 3.41: Seimic Refration testing for layered soil

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

Figure 3.42: Geophical test setup and geophone alighnment and corresponding
arrival time of elastic waves

Figure 3.43: Time distance graph of seismic refraction testing

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Determine the thickness of the top layer

The value can be obtained from the plot shown. Thickness of second layer can be

obtained as

Here is the time intercept of the line cd in figure, extended backwards.

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Figure 3.44: Seismic velocities of some geologic material a) Unsaturated

b) Saturated

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Table 3.2: Wave velocity for different soil and rock types

Type of soil or rock P-wave velocity (m/sec)

Sand, dry silt and fine grained top soil 200-1000
Alluvium 500-2000
Compacted clays, clayey gravel and 1000-2500
dense clayey sand
Loess 250-750
Slate and shale 2500-5000
Sandstone 1500-5000
Granite 4000-6000
Sound Limestone 5000-10000

Travel time of waves depend on media (greatest in igneous, i.e. consolidated rocks, and least
in unconsolidated rocks) Seismic velocity increases markedly from unsaturated to saturated
zone. The acoustic velocity of a medium saturated with water is greatly increased in
comparison with velocities in the vadose zone. Thus, the refraction method is applicable in
determining the depth to the water table in unconsolidated sediments.

• If the Upper strata is denser than the lower - the method may not be very successful.
• Velocity of contrast should be high.
• Surface terrain and the interfaces of the layers are steeply sloping – method may not
be successful

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

3.6.3 Cross hole test

These test methods are limited to the determination of the velocity of two types of
horizontally travelling seismic waves in soil materials; primary compression (P-wave) and
secondary shear (S-wave) waves. It is assumes that, the method used to analyze the data
obtained is based on first arrival times or interval arrival times over a measured distance.
The Crosshole Seismic Test makes direct measurements of P-wave velocities, or S-wave
velocities, in boreholes advanced primarily through soil. At selected depths down the
borehole, a borehole seismic source is used to generate a seismic wave train. Downhole
receivers are used to detect the arrival of the seismic wave train in offset borings at a
recommended spacing of 3 to 6 m. The distance between boreholes at the test depths is
measured using a borehole deviation survey. The borehole seismic source is connected to and
triggers a data recording system that records the response of the downhole receivers, thus
measuring the travel time of the wave train between the source and receivers.

Figure 3.45: Typical sectional view of Cross hole test

Module 3 : Field Tests in Rock

The P-wave or S-wave velocity is calculated from the measured distance and travel time for
the respective wave train. The seismic cross hole method provides a designer with
information pertinent to the seismic wave velocities of the materials in question. This data
may be used as follows:
• For input into static/dynamic analyses,
• For computing shear modulus, Young’s modulus, and Poisson’s ratio .
• For determining Seismic Site Class using the appropriate Building Code; and
• For assessing liquefaction potential.

Assumptions inherent in the test methods are,

Horizontal layering is assumed. Snell’s law of refraction applies to P-waves and S-

waves and to the velocities derived from crosshole tests. If Snell’s law of refraction is not
considered in the analysis of Crosshole seismic testing data, the report shall so state, and the
P-wave and S-wave velocities obtained may be unreliable for certain depth intervals near
changes in strata.