Geoelectric versus MASW for geotechnical studies

  • Rambhatla G SastryEmail author
  • Sumedha Chahar


We explore the role of non-invasive multi-electrode electrical resistivity imaging (ERT) and induced polarisation imaging (IPI) as an alternative to multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW) for geotechnical site characterisation in view of their higher near-surface spatial resolution. By using regression equations, we assess the relative performance of ERT, IPI and MASW in predicting geotechnical test results (standard penetration test (SPT), dynamic cone penetration test (DCPT) and static cone penetration test (SCPT)) in a site investigation on our IIT Roorkee Campus, India. The results indicate that the average root mean square (RMS) errors in predicting SPT based on ERT, IPI and MASW are 16.95%, 21.9% and 28.03%, respectively. Likewise, the average RMS errors in predicting DCPT based on ERT, IPI and MASW are 15.4%, 15.3% and 56.99%, respectively, and the average RMS errors in predicting SCPT based on ERT, IPI and MASW are 20.15%, 18.65% and 36.49%, respectively. In view of higher resolution for near-surface investigations, ERT/IPI seems to score over MASW in geotechnical site investigation studies. So, a leading role for non-invasive and cost-effective ERT/IPI in geotechnical site investigations is envisaged.


SPT DCPT SCPT ERT MASW regression equations 



We express our sincere thanks to Mr Anil Kumar for providing MASW-based shear wave velocity logs. The second author acknowledges the financial support (scholarship) provided by the M/S MHRD, Government of India, New Delhi.


  1. Anbazhagan P, Abhishek K and Sitharam T G 2013a Liquefaction hazard mapping of Lucknow – A part of Indo-Gangetic Basin (IGB); Int. J. Geotech. Earthq. Eng. 4(1) 17–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anbazhagan P, Kumar A and Sitharam T G 2013b Seismic site classification and correlation between standard penetration test N value and shear wave velocity for Lucknow city in Indo-Gangetic basin; Pure Appl. Geophys. 170(3) 299–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anbazhagan P, Uday A, Moustafa S S R and Arifi N N S A 2017 Soil void ratio correlation with shear wave velocities and SPT N values for Indo-Gangetic basin; J. Geol. Soc. India 89(4) 398–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cosenza P, Marmet E, Rejiba F, Cui Y J, Tabbagh A and Charlery Y 2006 Correlations between geotechnical and electrical data – A case study at Garchy in France;J. Appl. Geophys. 60 165–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drahor M G, Gokturkler G, Berge M A and Kurtulmus T O 2006 Application of electrical resistivity tomography technique for investigation of landslides: A case study from Turkey; Environ. Geol. 50 147–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Foti S 2000 Multi-station methods for geotechnical characterisation using surface waves; PhD Thesis, Politecnico di Torino, 229p.Google Scholar
  7. Gautam P K 2009 Geotechnical site characterization through geoelectrical imaging; Unpublished PhD Thesis, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India, pp. 52–106.Google Scholar
  8. Gautam P K, Sastry R G and Mondal S K 2007 The utility of multi-electrode resistivity data in geotechnical investigations – A case study; In: 20th Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP), pp. 731–737.Google Scholar
  9. Giao P H 2001 Some applications of engineering and environmental geophysics in geotechnical engineering; Presentation at Gifu University, Japan.Google Scholar
  10. Giao P H, Kim J H and Chung S G 2002 Application of engineering geophysics in investigation of the Pusan clays with reference to reclamation projects; Eur. J. Environ. Eng. Geophys. 7(3) 201–218.Google Scholar
  11. Giao P H, Chung S G, Kim D Y and Tanaka H 2003 Electrical imaging and laboratory resistivity testing for geotechnical investigation of Pusan clay deposits; J. Appl. Geophys. 52 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hadidi R and Gucunski N 2003 Inversion of SASW dispersion curve using numerical simulation; In: Proceedings SAGEEP, 1289p.Google Scholar
  13. Iyisan R 1996 Correlations between shear wave velocity and in situ penetration test results; Tech. J. Turk. Chamber Civil Eng. 7(2) 1187–1199.Google Scholar
  14. Joh S H 1996 Advances in the data interpretation technique for spectral analysis of surface waves measurements; PhD Thesis, University of Texas, USA, 240p.Google Scholar
  15. Kumar G 2005 Geology of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal; Geological Society of India, Bangalore, 383p.Google Scholar
  16. Kumar A 2013 Development of a Monte-Carlo inversion technique for MASW data; Unpublished Dissertation Report; Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India, pp. 9–29.Google Scholar
  17. Loke M H and Barker R D 1995 Least-squares deconvolution of apparent resistivity pseudo-sections; Geophysics 60 1682–1690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Loke M H and Barker R D 1996a Rapid least-squares inversion of apparent resistivity pseudo-sections by a quasi-Newton method; Geophys. Prospect. 44 131–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Loke M H and Barker R D 1996b Practical techniques for 3D resistivity surveys and data inversion; Geophys. Prospect. 44 499–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Matthews M C, Hope V S and Clayton C R I 1996 The use of surface waves in the determination of ground stiffness profiles; Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. Geotech. Eng. 119 84–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Matthews M C, Clayton C R I and Own Y 2000 The use of field geophysical techniques to determine geotechnical stiffness parameters; Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. Geotech. Eng. 143(1) 31–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mondal S K, Sastry R G, Gautam P K and Pachauri A K 2007 High resolution resistivity imaging of Naitwar Bazar landslide; In: Proceedings of the 20th Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP), Garhwal Himalaya, India, pp. 629–635.Google Scholar
  23. Mondal S K, Sastry R G, Gautam P K and Pachauri A K 2008 High resolution 2-D electrical resistivity tomography to characterize active Naitwar Bazar landslide, Garhwal Himalaya, India – A case study; Curr. Sci. India 94(7) 871–875.Google Scholar
  24. Morgan F D, Gay D A, Vichabian Y, Reppert P, Wharton A E and Sogade J A 2005 Geophysical and geotechnical investigations for proposed Dominica airport, Cite abstract, AGU; Jt. Assem. Suppl. 86 18.Google Scholar
  25. Murthy V N S 2008 Soil mechanics and foundation engineering; CBS Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 1043p.Google Scholar
  26. Oh Y, Jeong H, Lee Y and Shona H 2003 Safety evaluation of rock-fill dam by seismic (MASW) and resistivity methods; In: Proceedings of SAGEEP, 1377p.Google Scholar
  27. Park C B, Miller R D, Ryden N, Xia J and Ivanovo J 2005 Combined use of active and passive surface waves; J. Environ. Eng. Geoph. 10 323–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parkash B, Kumar S, Rao M S, Giri S C, Kumar C S and Gupta S 2001 Active tectonics of Western Gangetic Plains: DST’s Spl; In: On seismicity (ed.) Verma O P, IGC Publication, Roorkee, Vol. 2, pp. 141–158.Google Scholar
  29. Pujari P R and Nanoti M V 2006 Integrated resistivity imaging and GPR studies to assess groundwater pollution near landfill site, Nagpur, India; In: Proceedings of the Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP).Google Scholar
  30. Pujari P R, Pardhi P, Harkare P and Nanoti M V 2007 Assessment of pollution near landfill site in Nagpur, India by resistivity imaging and GPR; Environ. Monit. Assess. 131 489–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ranjan G and Rao A S R 2005 Basic and applied soil mechanics; New Age International Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 762p.Google Scholar
  32. Roth M J S and Nyquist J E 2003 Evaluation of multi-electrode earth resistivity testing in Karst; Geotech. Test J., ASTM 26 167–178.Google Scholar
  33. Roth M J S, Mackey J R, Mackey C and Nyquist J E 2002 A case study of the reliability of multielectrode earth resistivity testing for geotechnical investigations in karst terrains; Eng. Geol. 65 225–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rucker D F and Noonan G E 2013 Using marine resistivity to map geotechnical properties: A case study in support of dredging the Panama Canal; NSG 11(6) 625–637.Google Scholar
  35. Rumpf M and Tronicke J 2014 Predicting 2D geotechnical parameter fields in near-surface sedimentary environments; J. Appl. Geophys. 101 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sastry R G and Sumedha C 2014 Geoelectric imaging scores over MASW in geotechnical site characterization; In: Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP), Boston, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  37. Sastry R G and Viladkar M N 2004 Role of integrated geophysical studies in defining the rock profile below steep hill slope at the base of an endangered multi-storeyed building in Himachal Pradesh; J. Geol. Soc. India 63 282–290.Google Scholar
  38. Seshunarayana T 2006 Multichannel analysis of surface waves – An application to site characterization, Jabalpur, India; Unpublished PhD Thesis, Centre of Exploration Geophysics, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.Google Scholar
  39. Seshunarayana T and Sundararajan N 2004 Multichannel analysis of surface waves, MASW, for mapping shallow subsurface layers – A case study, Jabalpur, India; In: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference & Exposition on Petroleum Geophysics, Society of Petroleum Geophysicists, Hyderabad, India.Google Scholar
  40. Siddiqui F I and Osman S B 2013 Simple and multiple regression models for relationship between electrical resistivity and various soil properties for soil characterization; Environ. Earth Sci. 70 259–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sitharam T G, Samui P and Anbazhagan P 2008 Spatial variability of rock depth in Bangalore using geostatistical, neural network and support vector machine models; J. Geotech. Geol. Eng. 26 503–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Srivastava P, Pal D K, Aruche K M, Wani S P and Sahrawat K L 2015 Soils of the Indo-Gangetic Plains: A pedogenic response to landscape stability, climatic variability and anthropogenic activity during Holocene; Earth Sci. Rev. 140 54–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sudhish Kumar B, Anbazhagan P and Sitharam T G 2006 Development of theoretical dispersion curves and comparison with multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW); In: 13th Symposium on Earthquake Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.Google Scholar
  44. Sumedha C and Sastry R G 2016 Multivariate regres-sion analysis of geoelectric imaging and geotechnical test results; In: Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP), Denver, Colorado.Google Scholar
  45. Ulugergerli E U and Uyanik O 2007 Statistical correlations between seismic velocities and SPT blow counts and the relative density of soils; ASTM JOTE 35(2) 1–5.Google Scholar
  46. Vipin A S, Anbazhagan P and Sitharam T G 2008 Identification of liquefaction susceptible areas in Bangalore using probabilitistic approach based on SPT data; Proc. Indian Geotech. Conf. Banglore 2 444–447.Google Scholar
  47. Ward S H (ed.) 1990 Geotechnical and environmental geophysics: Investigations in geophysics; SEG 5(1) 1–30.Google Scholar
  48. Xia J, Miller R D, Park C B, Hunter J A and Harris J B 2000 Comparing shear-wave velocity profiles from MASW with borehole measurements in unconsolidated sediments, Fraser River Delta, B.C., Canada; J. Environ. Eng. Geophys. 5(3) 1.Google Scholar
  49. Xia J, Miller R D, Park C B, Hunter J A, Harris J B and Ivanov J 2002 Comparing shear-wave velocity profiles from multichannel surface wave with borehole measurements; Int. J. Soil Dyn. Earthq. Eng. 22 181–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Xu C and Butt S D 2006 Evaluation of MASW techniques to image steeply dipping cavities in laterally inhomogeneous terrain; J. Appl. Geophys. 59(2) 106–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesIndian Institute of TechnologyRoorkeeIndia

Personalised recommendations