One of the major difficulties with characterizing geotechnical and geological structures is the uncertainty of knowing the size, shape and material characteristics of the structure. This uncertainty results from the limited subsurface sampling of the structures using boreholes, shallow excavations, etc..., which is sparse for economic and practical reasons and cannot intersect every region of the structure. This uncertainty also impacts on engineering designs for these structures such as foundations, mine openings/tunnels, hydrocarbon drill planning and reservoir design.
This research is the core component of a broad research program investigating geophysical imaging technology to assist with remotely imaging and evaluating geological structures and in situ conditions in between subsurface sampling locations or drill intersections. Ongoing research tasks are targeted at i) imaging near surface geological structures using surface Rayleigh waves for geotechnical subsurface investigations (SSIs) and locating and mapping shallow anomalies such as abandoned mine openings, ii) developing laboratory imaging methods for geotechnical centrifuge modeling, iii) imaging reservoir pore fluid displacement associated with Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) operations, iv) real-time monitoring of drilling performance from analysis of seismic waves generated by the drill bit, and v) imaging massive sulfide mineral bodies for mineral exploration. The research tasks have components such as fundamental experimental modeling, development of experimental databases relating geophysical attributes to in situ conditions, numerical and scaling models to relate experimental and field measurements, and field or in situ measurements.