Locating scatterers while drilling using seismic noise due to tunnel boring machine

U Harmankaya, A. Kaslilar, K. Wapenaar, D. Draganov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Unexpected geological structures can cause safety and economic risks during underground excavation. Therefore, predicting possible geological threats while drilling a tunnel is important for operational safety and for preventing expensive standstills. Subsurface information for tunneling is provided by exploratory wells and by surface geological and geophysical investigations, which are limited by location and resolution, respectively. For detailed information about the structures ahead of the tunnel face, geophysical methods are applied during the tunnel-drilling activity. We present a method inspired by seismic interferometry and ambient-noise correlation that can be used for detecting scatterers, such as boulders and cavities, ahead of a tunnel while drilling. A similar method has been proposed for active-source seismic data and validated using laboratory and field data. Here, we propose to utilize the seismic noise generated by a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), and recorded at the surface. We explain our method at the hand of data from finite-difference modelling of noise-source wave propagation in a medium where scatterers are present. Using the modelled noise records, we apply cross-correlation to obtain correlation gathers. After isolating the scattered arrivals in these gathers, we cross-correlate again and invert for the correlated traveltime to locate scatterers. We show the potential of the method for locating the scatterers while drilling using noise records due to TBM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-99
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Body waves
  • Finite-difference modelling
  • Locating scatterers
  • Seismic-noise correlation
  • Traveltime inversion
  • Tunnel seismic-while-drilling


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