Crosscoherence-based interferometry for the retrieval of first arrivals and subsequent tomographic imaging of differential weathering

Joachim Place, Deyan Draganov, Alireza Malehmir, Christopher Juhlin, Chris Wijns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Exhumation of crust exposes rocks to weathering agents that weaken the rocks’ mechanical strength. Weakened rocks will have lower seismic velocity than intact rocks and can therefore be mapped using seismic methods. However, if the rocks are heavily weathered, they will attenuate controlled-source seismic waves to such a degree that the recorded wavefield would become dominated by ambient noise and/or surface waves. Therefore, we have examined the structure of differential weathering by first-break traveltime tomography over a seismic profile extending approximately 3.5 km and acquired at a mining site in Zambia using explosive sources and a source based on the swept-impact seismic technique (SIST). Seismic interferometry has been tested for the retrieval of supervirtual first arrivals masked by uncorrelated noise. However, use of crosscorrelation in the retrieval process makes the method vulnerable to changes in the source signal (explosives and SIST). Thus, we have developed a crosscoherence-based seismic-interferometry method to tackle this shortcoming. We investigate the method’s efficiency in retrieving first arrivals and, simultaneously, correctly handling variations in the source signal. Our results illustrate the superiority of the crosscoherence- over crosscorrelation-based method for retrieval of the first arrivals, especially in alleviating spurious ringyness and in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio. These benefits are observable in the greater penetration depth and the improved resolution of the tomography sections. The tomographic images indicate isolated bodies of higher velocities, which may be interpreted as fresh rocks embedded into a heavily weathered regolith, providing a conspicuous example of differential weathering. Our study advances the potential of seismic methods for providing better images of the near surface (the critical zone).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)Q37-Q48
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • seismic interferometry
  • supervirtual
  • crosscorrelation
  • crosscoherence
  • first arrivals
  • first break
  • picking
  • tomography
  • critical zone
  • weathering
  • mining


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