Engineers Australia

Geophysical properties of soils

J. Carlos Santamarina and Junghee Park

Abstract

Low energy perturbations used in geophysical methods provide insightful information about constant-fabric soil properties and their spatial variability. There are causal links between soil type, index properties, elastic wave velocity, electromagnetic wave parameters and thermal properties. Soil type relates to the stress-dependent S-wave velocity, thermal and electrical conductivity and permittivity. The small strain stiffness reflects the state of stress, the extent of diagenetic cementation and/or freezing. Pore fluid chemistry, fluid phase and changes in either fluid chemistry or phase manifest through electromagnetic measurements. The volumetric water content measured with electromagnetic techniques is the best predictor of porosity if the water saturation is 100%. Changes in water saturation alter the P-wave velocity when Srà100%, the S-wave velocity at intermediate saturations, and the thermal conductivity when the saturation is low Srà0%. Finally, tabulated values suffice to estimate heat capacity and latent heat for engineering design, however thermal conductivity requires measurements under proper field conditions.