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Proceedings of Indian Geotechnical Conference

December 22-24,2013, Roorkee



A.V. Hebsur, * Research scholar, IIT Bombay, almelu@iitb.ac.in

N. Muniappan, Research scholar, IIT Bombay, muniappan@iitb.ac.in
E.P. Rao, Emeritus Fellow, IIT Bombay, ceepria@iitb.ac.in
G. Venkatachalam, Emeritus Fellow (Retd.), IIT Bombay, gvee@iitb.ac.in

ABSTRACT: Geotechnical subsurface exploration by drilling gives essential site-specific information, but, is
expensive and limited and could throw up surprises when one interpolates between boreholes, resulting in costly
remedial measures. GPR can play an useful role in detecting unforeseen anomalies. GPR surveys at two
construction sites in Mumbai using 40 and 20 MHz frequencies are described. Limited bore hole information was
available to different depths. The study attempts to correlate the GPR response with geotechnical bore hole
parameters such as Core recovery ratio (CR) and Rock quality designation (RQD) with help of available bore logs.
For this purpose, Hilbert transform is employed and the cumulative magnitude is correlated with CR and RQD. The
very good correlations demonstrate that GPR can give not only lateral variations between bore holes, but also
vertical extent of layers beyond the depth of exploration and serve as useful supplementary investigative tool.

The primary source of information in a help in knowing the vertical extent of layers,
geotechnical engineering exploration programme is especially, beyond the depth of borehole
boreholes. However, in many projects, the exploration. This has relevance to the level at
investigation is inadequate, and uncertainties about which pile tip may have to be placed. Also can
the subsurface prevail and adversely affect the detect variations/ anomalies, if any, in borehole
cost-effectiveness and reliability of the design information. Thus GPR studies can help instances
process. Safe designs are adopted to overcome the where uncertainties are expected and knowledge of
lack of information. Since collecting additional subsurface is inadequate and taking critical
information through boreholes may be difficult, but decisions regarding foundations confidently. The
supplementing the bore hole information using present study uses 40 and 20 MHz antennas at two
GPRs is possible. [1] gives the application of GPRs project sites where limited bore hole information
in subsurface stratigraphy characterization, [2] was available and suggests a semi-automatic
gives the subsurface geotechnical profiling of method to do profiling.
construction sites using GPR and [3] gives the
complete mapping of buried solids like footings, at STUDY AREA
second used sites to facilitate geotechnical The study areas are in Mumbai and the GPR
explorations. survey grids are shown in Figs. 1 and 2.
The studies reported here show that carrying out
the GPR studies in project sites have many GPR DATA COLLECTION
advantages. With the choice of GPR antennas of In both the locations L1 and L2, 40 MHz data was
appropriate frequencies, one can explore to depths collected in 2D Normal Mode Scanning from left
varying from 3 to 100 m. Information obtained to right, bottom to top, with Scans/m = 5. In L1, 9
from GPR studies will supplement the borehole X lines of 7m long & 3 Y lines of 26m long h and
data in regions not covered by them. They can 20 MHz survey was conducted close to and parallel
check the lateral extent of layers and corroborate toY2. In L2, 4 X lines of 10 m long & 3 Y lines of
the bore logs and detect variations, if any also they 12m long and 20 MHz survey was conducted close

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Hebsur, A. V., Muniappan, N., Rao, E. P. And Venkatachalam, G.

to and parallel toY2. The data was post processed Fig. 2 Location L2: Grid used for GPR survey
using Position Correction, FIR Filter, Range Gain
and Stretching.
The post processed radargrams have been further
processed to extract instantaneous magnitude
components and colour-coded in order to facilitate
visual interpretation of the subsurface layers.
Typical Magnitude components of processed
40MHz and 20MHz GPR data of L1 are given in
Figs. 3 and 4. Typical Magnitude components of
processed 40MHz and 20MHz GPR data of L2 are
given in Figs. 5 and 6.

Y Line 1 Y Line 2 Y Line 3

X Line 9
X Line 8
X Line 7 3.25m
X Line 6 (a) (b)
26m X Line 5
long X Line 4
traverse X Line 3
X Line 2
Origin X Line 1
(100,100) 3.5 m 3.5 m

Fig. 1 Location L1 Grid used for GPR survey

Y Line 1 Y Line 2 Y Line 3

X Line 4

X Line 3

X Line 2 (c) (d)

4m Fig. 3 Magnitude components of processed

(100,100 X Line 1 40MHz GPR data for L1 (a) to (d) X1 to X4
5m 5m

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Supplementing geotechnical exploration at construction sites using GPR

Fig. 4 Magnitude component of processed 20MHz

GPR data for L1
Fig. 6 Magnitude component of processed 20MHz
GPR data for L2

The methodology used in the study is illustrated
with the help of data of Location L1. Similar
results were obtained for L2. The steps involved
1. Visual Interpretation of GPR data and
comparison with BH data.
2. Application of Hilbert Transform and
development of correlation between GPR data
and Core recovery ratio (CR) and Rock quality
designation (RQD).
(a) (b) 3. Development of a semi-automatic method to
identify soil layers using correlation between
cumulative Hilbert magnitudes and cumulative
CR or cumulative RQD.

Visual Interpretation and Comparison of GPR

Data with Bore hole Data
There were total 6 bore holes in the Location L1.
There were no boreholes in Location L2.
Therefore, this paper describes the methodology
used in the study with the help of data of L1.

The 4th X profile (X4) of L1 falls near BH6 on left

and BH1 on the right. Visual interpretation and
(b) (d) comparison of 4X with BH6 and BH1 data is given
in Fig. 7.
Fig. 5 Magnitude component of processed 40MHz
GPR data for L2 (a) to (d) X1 to X4 profiles

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Hebsur, A. V., Muniappan, N., Rao, E. P. And Venkatachalam, G.

(vii) Layer IV, Grey Breccia, is indicated by the

bright yellow stripes over red and black
patches and extends from about 13.5 m down
to 45.5 m; BH-6 shows two sublayers within
Layer IV, whereas the radargram shows that
this distinction does not exist at the startting
point of Profile L1 X4, because it is not
exactly over BH-6.
(viii) The boreholes are terminated at a depth of
about 40 m. But, radargram contains
information beyond the depth of exploration of
40 m. In the radargram, from 46 m
downwards, there is a change in layer. The
layer beyond 46 m could be Grey Breccia of a
better quality than that observed within the
depth of exploration.
Fig. 7 Visual interpretation and comparison of
(ix) Similarly, in BH-4, Grey Breccia ia met with
Profile L1 X4 with BH- 6 and BH-1
at a shallow depth of about 4.5 m. Profile L1
X9, which is closest to BH-4, corroborates this
From comparison with BH6 and BH1 following
(not shown here).
points may noted,
(i) Radargram in Fig. 7 shows three distinct
layers: The first layer is marked by yellow and Semi automatic Generation of Subsurface
green shades; the second is distinguished by Profiles
In the above section, visually break points have
the red and black patches and the third is
been found in the radargrams, layers are found and
identified by the bright yellow stripes over red
compared with nearby bore hole data. In this
and black patches.
section, an attempt has been made to develop a
(ii) There is a fairly good agreement between the
method for detecting the break points in the
layers in the radargram and the boreholes.
extracted wiggle traces of the radargrams and
(iii) Radargrams give a fair idea of the different
subsequently generate subsurface profiles.
layers though their thicknesses are not exact.
Proposed algorithm is given in Fig. 8. Typical CR
This is because, boreholes usually show
and RQD information of BH1, BH2 and BH6 are
interfaces as sharp delimiters, while the
given in Tables 1 to 3. Typical cumulative CR
colour-coded radargrams show gradual
graphs and cumulative RQD graphs for BH1, BH2,
transitions in weathering from layer to layer in
and BH6 are given in Figs. 9 and 10. The
terms of the tonal variations.
amplitudes of wiggle traces (1st, middle and last
(iv) Layer I of the boreholes, namely, Fill, is not
wiggle traces are chosen for any given profile)
distinguished by the GPR; it is merged with
after carrying out the processing mentioned in
Layer II (Yellowish clay) except where Layer
algorithm of Fig.8 Smoothened cumulative
II is thick and is divided into sublayers.
normalized amplitude graph is obtained and
(v) In BH-1, for example, there are two sublayers
presented in Fig. 11.
within Layer II. Layer IIA is merged with
Layer I in the radargram; Layer IIB is
(vi) Layer III, CWR, which occurs in BH-6 as well
as BH-1, is distinguishable by the red and
black zone ranging from approximately 3.5 m
to 13.5 m.

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Supplementing geotechnical exploration at construction sites using GPR

GPR data in wiggle trace form Table 1 CR and RQD values for BH1

Applying Hilbert transformation and Depth ratio RQD
extracting Magnitude components 0 0 0
0 0 0
3.5 0 0
6.5 21 0
8 25 6
Normalization of magnitudes 9.5 17 0
11 20 0
12.5 23 0
Cumulative normalized magnitudes 14 25 0
15 28 0
16.5 72 63
18 84 72
Linear fit to Cumulative normalized 19.5 91 62
magnitudes 21 83 63
22.5 95 95
24 73 56
25.5 86 86
Subtract linear trend from 27 86 57
Cumulative normalized magnitudes 28.5 90 62
30 93 62
31.5 91 85
33 87 77
34.5 85 47
Plotting modulus of residual components of
36 87 78
Cumulative normalized magnitudes and
37.5 91 85
smoothening by weighted average method
39 90 73
40.1 93 84

Validation of smoothed cumulative

normalized magnitude graphs with Borehole

Detection of break points in plots of all

wiggle traces and joining them

Generation of subsurface profiles

Fig. 8. Algorithm for semi-automatic generation of

subsurface profile

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Hebsur, A. V., Muniappan, N., Rao, E. P. And Venkatachalam, G.

Table 2 CR and RQD values for BH2 Table 3 CR and RQD values for BH6

Core Core
Recovery recovery
depth ratio RQD Depth ratio RQD
2.5 0 0 1.5 0 0
3.6 0 0 3.1 0 0
4.5 0 0 4.5 6 0
6 6 0 6 16 10
7.5 10 0 7.5 14 0
9 56 26 9 14 0
10.5 20 18 10.5 33 0
12 30 0 12 24 0
13.5 24 0 13.5 34 0
15 37 0 15 39 0
16.5 28 0 16.5 40 0
18 76 24 18 52 34
19.5 93 90 19.5 61 33
21 94 40 21 70 67
22.5 95 58 22.5 81 62
24 95 58 24 79 50
25.5 96 67 25.5 90 83
27 92 92 27 83 60
28.5 96 96 28.5 83 50
30 93 93 30 86 77
31.5 94 94 31.5 80 53
33 72 61 33 83 68
34.5 82 56 34.5 90 56
36 62 50 36 94 68
37.5 72 66 37.5 90 41
39 80 47 39 91 79
40.5 64 64 40.2 62 50

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Supplementing geotechnical exploration at construction sites using GPR

Fig. 9 Typical Cumulative Core Recovery ratio Vs

Depth graphs for BH1, BH2 and BH6 Fig. 10 Typical RQD Vs Depth graphs for BH1,
BH2 and BH6

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Hebsur, A. V., Muniappan, N., Rao, E. P. And Venkatachalam, G.

Comparison of Cumulative Normalized 2. Further the semi-automatic method

Magnitude Graph with BH, Cumulative RQD suggested here brings out subsurface layer
and CR boundaries very well and needs a very
As an illustration of the proposed method, a typical limited number of initial bore holes data for
cumulative magnitude graph of the 1st trace of establishing site-specific correlations.
profile X4 is compared with the nearest bore hole 3. Layer changes, which sometimes get
BH6 (Fig. 11). The layers obtained from the missed out in bore hole data
significant break points of the cumulative owing to visual interpretation and
normalized magnitude graph are in good agreement insignificant variations in CR and
with those obtained in the boreholes. RQD, can be captured in profile produced
by GPR, because it picks up
even subtle contrasts in relative dielectric
4. GPR can be a good supplementing tool for
the geotechnical explorations at
construction sites.


1. Leucci, G. (2012), Ground Penetrating Radar:

A useful tool for shallow subsurface
stratigraphy characterization, Stratigraphic
Analysis of Layered Deposits, Dr. Omer Ellitok
(Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0578-7, InTech,
Available from:
2. Muniappan, N., Hebsur, A.V., Rao, E.P. and
Fig. 11 Comparison of cumulative normalized Venkatachalam, G., Geotechnical subsurface
magnitude graph of 1st wiggle trace of L1 X4, profiling using GPR spectral signatures A
with BH6 case study, IGC-2011, 15-17 December 2011,
Kochi, India. 157-161.
CONCLUSIONS 3. Hebsur, A. V., Muniappan, N., Rao, E. P. and
From the studies carried out, the following Venkatachalam, G., A methodology for
inferences may be made: detecting buried solids in second-use sites
1. Magnitude components of GPR data using GPR, IGC-2010, 16-18 December 2010,
collected between two bore hole locations, Mumbai, India, 49-52
can show the variations of layers between
the bore holes and also with the depths.
Even can provide information about the soil
layers beyond the exploration depths.

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