Monitoring the tidal response of a sea levee with ambient seismic noise

Thomas Planès*, Justin B. Rittgers, Michael A. Mooney, Wim Kanning, Deyan Draganov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Internal erosion, a major cause of failure of earthen dams and levees, is often difficult to detect at early stages using traditional visual inspection. The passive seismic-interferometry technique could enable the early detection of internal changes taking place within these structures. We test this technique on a portion of the sea levee of Colijnsplaat, Netherlands, which presents signs of concentrated seepage in the form of sandboils. Applying seismic interferometry to ambient noise collected over a 12-hour period, we retrieve surface waves propagating along the levee. We identify the contribution of two dominant ambient seismic noise sources: the traffic on the Zeeland bridge and a nearby wind turbine. Here, the sea-wave action does not constitute a suitable noise source for seismic interferometry. Using the retrieved surface waves, we compute time-lapse variations of the surface-wave group velocities during the 12-hour tidal cycle for different frequency bands, i.e., for different depth ranges. The estimated group-velocity variations correlate with variations in on-site pore-water pressure measurements that respond to tidal loading. We present lateral profiles of these group-velocity variations along a 180-meter section of the levee, at four different depth ranges (0m–40m). On these profiles, we observe some spatially localized relative group-velocity variations of up to 5% that might be related to concentrated seepage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Internal erosion
  • Levee monitoring
  • Seismic interferometry


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