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A Correlation of Shear Wave Velocity

and Standard Penetration Resistance


Aminaton Marto, Tan Choy Soon, Fauziah Kasim
Professor, PhD Candidate, Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
81310 Skudai, Malaysia
e-mail: cstan8@live.utm.my aminaton@utm.my fauziahkasim@utm.my

Meldi Suhatril
Lecturer
Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
e-mail: meldi@um.edu.my

ABSTRACT
This paper attempts to propose general correlation between shear wave velocity and standard
penetration resistance based on empirical research equations which had been established
worldwide. It first reviews earlier development and current advancement of previous related
studies. Short reviews had revealed that previous investigations are all site dependant studies
which tend to be independent from other researchers. Although numerous researchers had
studied the correlation regression through empirical data, there is no concrete evidence to plot
the range boundary of the regression correlations. Most researchers are in consensus to use a
power-law form in describing the relationship. Noticed that there is still no concrete evidence
to plot the boundary range of the regression correlations, it is thus mandatory to carry out
statistical analysis to draw such conclusion. The controversy and confusion of this state
require more in-depth studies to confirm the finding significance. Based on earlier published
correlations, statistical analysis was carried out to generate correlation which is applicable to
all soil types. New correlations are proposed by combining 27 published correlations in two
ways, (i) without outliner and (ii) with outliner. The correlation with outliner data gives
higher correlation coefficient and lower percentage of error. This study shows an
advancement to incorporate all earlier research findings to generate correlations which are
applicable to all soil types globally.

KEYWORDS:

Shear wave velocity; standard penetration resistance

INTRODUCTION
Shear wave velocity is the fundamental geotechnical characteristic that acts as the main input
of quantitative earthquake engineering and the main controller of site response. The necessity to
understand the details of subsurface characteristics and geology stratifications is essential to
forecast future earthquake. Kiku et al. (2001) stated that the top 30m of surface soil stratum is key
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influence on respectively ground motions. VS30 is a general acceptance as representative indicator,


not only in National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and International
Building Code (IBC) but also in hazard assessments including microzonation study and site
characterization.
Surface waves investigation works are significantly improved over the prior efforts. Shear
wave velocity can be measured either through prevalent invasive or non-invasive methods.
Invasive methods which rely on measurement of body waves include down hole, up hole, cross
hole and suspension PS logging. Non-invasive method includes seismic refraction, Multichannel
Analysis of Surface Waves (MASW) and Spectral Analysis of Surface Waves (SASW).
Hanumantharao and Ramana (2008) reported that non-invasive methods have lower measurement
about 10 to 15 percent. Although invasive method is more reliable, both tests are uneconomically
feasible. Recently, hybrid site investigation method offers an option of greater flexibilities and
convenience.
Higher cost and lacked in respective expertise made shear wave velocity unable to be
measured routinely in industry and engineering practice. By making use of the abundant standard
penetration tests (SPT) data in site investigation program, statistical means to obtain the
relationship between shear wave velocity (Vs) and standard penetration resistance (SPT-N) is
greatly supported by researchers and industries. Conveniences, efficiency, and cost saving are
three main advantages of empirical regression equation.
In order to benefit and utilize the soil drilling works, various researchers had tried to quantify
the correlation at local scale of various countries. Although the empirical correlation between
shear wave velocity and standard penetration resistance is convincing with notable worldwide
agreement, it is region specific and not applicable to other site. It is thus mandatory to reformulate
and reinterpret al.l previous correlations to produce predictive relationship with enhanced
accuracy. This paper will first review the development of empirical correlation and secondly, to
produce the general correlations which is applicable globally.

EXISTING CORRELATIONS
There are numerous, but similar definitions to limit their investigation boundaries within the
context of Vs and SPT-N given by experts. There are diverse opinions as to include some
additional dependent variables in describing the relationship. Although different researchers tried
to correlate Vs in terms of various soil indexes including depth, geological epoxy and so on, soil
type and SPT-N value are the most favorable parameters (Kuo et al., 2011). The following
subsections will further discuss on considerable influences of each variable towards shear wave
velocity.

Soil Type
Considering nonlinearity as the nature of soils, most published correlations are valid to
particular sites without separate considerations of soil types. The trends of these correlations are
similar. The reason is that both cohesionless and cohesive soils are not separable in each
borehole. Contradict findings exist literally. Jafari (2002) for example made a suggestion to
differentiate the equations between cohesive and cohesionless soils. Dikmen (2009) stated that
shear wave velocity of sandy soils is higher than cohesive soils, which antonymous with what had
been stated by Tsiambaos and Sabatakakis (2011). Specifically, the trends of correlations for
cohesionless soils are less consistent compared with cohesiveness soils in general. Thus, these

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correlations may not be user friendly unless soil could be differentiated based on engineering or
geological classification.

Depth
Holzer et al. (2005) yield the depth-dependent regression equations based on assumption that
overburden stress correction is negligible. Akin et al. (2011) examined depth factor in
development of empirical equation and proven the necessity of depth effect in providing better fit
correlations. Lee (1992) stated that coefficient of determination for regression model is higher if
depth factor is included. However, result of Iyisan (1996) gave a contradicting result.

Overburden Pressure
Brandenberg (2010) stated that overburden effect should be interpreted to eliminate
uncertainty as both Vs and SPT-N are theoretically independent of overburden stress. Sun et al.
(2012) involved overburden pressure into their multiple regression analysis. On the other hand,
work of Lee and Tsai (2008) showed that the correlation incorporated with overburden pressure
correction became worse in term of fitting the correlation.

Geological Age
Some geologist stated that influence of geological age is considerable, which is indirectly
indicated by the variation of blow count. Andrus et al. (2009) proved this statement by utilizing
field data from five countries as an alternative to estimate the geological age for soil deposit.

Corrected SPT N
Most of the researchers including Anbazhagan et al. (2012) utilized uncorrected SPT-N in
establishing relationship while Sitharam and Anbazhagan (2008) developed using corrected
values and obtained great correlation pattern. Nevertheless, Uma Maheswari et al. (2010)
reported that the corrected and uncorrected N values predicted Vs with equal accuracy.

CORRELATIONS
This paper evaluates dataset obtained from published literature globally. Considering that
almost all researchers hypothesized empirical relationship in using a power-law relationship
between Vs and SPT resistance as Vs = ANB , other parameters as mentioned in previous
paragraph will not be included in this paper.
A summary of established correlation in half of the past century is given in Table 1. The
published regression was divided into three groups, namely all soil types, cohesionless soil and
cohesive soil.
By considering soil non-linearity, this paper only concentrates on the correlations which are
applicable for all soil types. Figure 1 illustrates such relationship of 27 empirical correlations in
form of Vs = ANB as shown in Table 1. These independent correlations are established for
various sites from the world including Japan, USA, Greece, Taiwan, Turkey, India, Iran, Korea,
and etc. The variation between earlier correlations among researchers is mainly due to the
geotechnical conditions of studied sites. Although most of the correlations are comparable and in
good trend, direct application to other regions are disallowed because of different practice of SPT

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and shear wave investigation works. Hence, authors attempt to combine available published data
in this paper to establish new correlations which are applicable to all regions.
Table 1: Correlation of Vs = ANB (After Jafari et al. (2002); Hanumantharao and Ramana
(2008); Uma Maheswari et al. (2010); Kuo et al. (2011); Akin et al. (2011); Anbazhagan et al.
(2012))
Researcher
Kanai (1966)
Ohba and Toriumi (1970)
Shibata (1970)
Imai and Yahimura (1970)
Ohta et al. (1972)
Fujimara (1972)
Ohsaki and Iwasaki (1973)
Imai and Yoshimura (1975)
Imai et al. (1975)
Imai (1977)
Ohta and Goto (1978)
JRA (1980)
Seed and Idriss (1981)
Imai and Tonouchi (1982)
Seed et al. (1983)
Sykora and Stokoe (1983)
Okamoto et al. (1989)
Lee (1990)
Imai and Yoshimura (1990)
Yokota et al. (1991)
Kalteziotis et al. (1992)
Raptakis et al. (1995)
Athanasopoulos (1995)
Sisman (1995)
Iyisan (1996)
Jafari et al. (1997)
Chien et al. (2000)
Kiku et al. (2001)
Jafari et al. (2002)
Hasancebi and Ulusay (2007)
Hanumantharao and Ramana (2008)
Lee and Tsai (2008)
Dikmen (2009)
Brandenberg et al. (2010)
Uma Maheswari et al. (2010)
Tsiambaos and Sabatakakis (2011)
Anbazhagan et al. (2012)
A: controls the amplitude
B: controls the relationship curvature

All soil
Vs = 19N0.6
Vs = 84N0.31

Cohesionless soil

Cohesive soil

Vs = 32N0.5
Vs = 76N

0.33

Vs = 87N0.36
0.337

Vs = 92.1N
Vs = 81.4N0.39
Vs = 92N0.329
Vs = 89.9N0.341
Vs = 91N0.337
Vs = 85.35N0.348

Vs = 59.4N0.47

Vs = 80.6N0.331
Vs = 88N0.34
Vs = 80N0.33

Vs = 102N0.292
Vs = 100N0.33

0.5

Vs = 61.4N
Vs = 97N0.314

Vs = 56.4N0.5
Vs = 100.5N0.29
Vs = 125N0.3
Vs = 57.4N0.49

Vs = 114.43N0.31

Vs = 49.1N0.50
Vs = 100N0.24

Vs = 76.6N0.45
Vs = 184.2N0.17

0.33

Vs = 76N
Vs = 121N0.27
Vs = 76.2N0.24
Vs = 107.6N0.36
Vs = 32.8N0.51
Vs = 51.5N0.516
Vs = 22N0.85

Vs = 22N0.76
0.292

Vs = 68.3N
Vs = 22N0.85
Vs = 90N0.309
Vs = 82.6N0.43
Vs = 137.153N0.229
Vs = 58N0.39

Vs = 19N0.85
Vs = 90.82N0.319
Vs = 79N0.434
Vs = 98.07N0.305
Vs = 73N0.33

Vs = 27N0.73
Vs = 97.89N0.269

Vs = 95.64N0.301
Vs = 105.7N0.327
Vs = 68.96N0.51

Vs = 100.53N0.265
Vs = 79.7N0.365
Vs = 60.17N0.56

Vs = 89.31N0.358
Vs = 88.8N0.370
Vs = 106.63N0.39

Vs = 163.15N0.192
Vs = 44N0.48

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700

Shear Wave Velocity (m/s)

600

500

400

300

200

100

0
0

10

Kanai (1966)
Fujimara (1972)
Imai et al (1975)
Seed and Idriss (1981)
Yokota et al (1991)
Sisman (1995)
Kiku et al. (2001)
Hanumantharao and Ramana (2008)
Uma Maheswari et al. (2010)

20
SPT-N Value

30

Ohba and Toriumi (1970)


Ohsaki and Iwasaki (1973)
Imai (1977)
Imai and Tonouchi (1982)
Kalteziotis et al (1992)
Iyisan (1996)
Jafari et al (2002)
Lee and Tsai (2008)
Tsiambaos and Sabatakakis (2011)

40

50

Imai and Yahimura (1970)


Imai and Yoshimura (1975)
Ohta and Goto (1978)
Imai and Yoshimura (1990)
Athanasopoulos (1995)
Jafari et al (1997)
Hasancebi and Ulusay (2007)
Dikmen (2009)
Anbazhagan et al (2012)

Figure 1: Published correlation for all soils

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


Simple linear power regression analysis as what had been agreed by researchers is carried out
to develop the relationship between shear wave velocity and standard penetration resistance. In
order to produce predictive relationship with enhanced accuracy, statistical analysis was carried
out to control the data quality. New correlations are proposed by combining 27 published
correlations in two ways, (i) without outliner and (ii) with outliner.
Coefficient of determination (R-squared) value and percentage of Vs error (PVE) are
determined to indicate the accuracy of the correlations. PVE is calculated using the following
relation:

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468

Percentage of Vs Error =

(1)

Figure 2 shows the data distributions of earlier published correlations. By using statistical
means, the newly developed correlations is Vs= 69.76N0.401. R-squared value for this correlation
is quite low, 0.624. The reason is because of different practice of site investigation works and
variation of geological conditions. Hence, some statistical approaches should be implemented to
provide better fit correlation under these conditions.

Shear Wave Velocity (m/s)

700
600
500
400
Vs = 69.76N0.401
R = 0.624

300
200
100
0
0

10

20

30

40

50

SPT-N Value

Figure 2: Proposed correlation based on earlier correlations for all soil types
By assuming the distribution of dataset is normally distributed; only the data located within
the range between standard deviation are used, in other words, 68.2% of the dataset (Figure 3)
from 27 correlations used by researchers.

Figure 3: Data and outliner

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Shear Wave Velocity (m/s)

In Figure 4, the distributions of the dataset with the outliner boundary lines were plotted. By
using statistical means, the newly developed correlations excluding outliner data is shown in
Figure 5 with both upper and lower boundary lines; the mean standard deviation. This is to
indicate the range boundary of the regression correlations which were not considered by previous
researchers. All generated correlations from this study are shown in Table 2, including both
dataset with and without outliner. The correlation with outliner data gives higher correlation
coefficient. Considering the soil non-linearity, this correlation is applicable to all soil types.
Hence, it is user-friendly and more economically to be employed into engineering design.

700
600
+

500
400

300

200
100
0
0

10

20

30
SPT-N Value

40

50

60

Figure 4: Data and outliner boundaries mean standard deviation

Shear Wave Velocity (m/s)

700
600
500
Vs= 93.67N0.389

400

Vs = 77.13N0.377
R = 0.876

300

Vs = 53.87N0.403

200
100
0
0

10

20

30

40

50

SPT-N Value

Figure 5: Proposed correlation exclude with outliner data for all soil types

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Table 2: Result summary

Dataset
Without outliner
With outliner

Correlations
Vs = 93.67N0.389
Vs = 93.67N0.389
Vs = 77.13N0.377
Vs = 53.87N0.407

Correlation Coefficient
0.624
0.876
-

Remark
Lower boundary
Higher boundary

CONCLUSION
This paper has outlined the developments of empirical correlation between shear wave
velocity and standard penetration resistance. Although numerous researchers had studied the
correlation regression through empirical data, there is no concrete evidence to plot the range
boundary of the regression correlations. New correlations are proposed by combining 27
published correlations in two ways, (i) without outliner and (ii) with outliner. By utilizing
statistical procedure to outline some unreliable data, correlation with high correlation coefficient
was generated. This study shows an advancement to incorporate all earlier research findings to
generate correlations which are applicable to all soil types globally.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors would like to thank Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and ZAMALAH UTM for the
financial support.

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