Seismic imaging of sandbox experiments – laboratory hardware setup and first reflection seismic sections
With the study and technical development introduced here, we combine analogue sandbox simulation techniques with seismic physical modelling of sandbox models. For that purpose, we designed and developed a new mini-seismic facility for laboratory use, comprising a seismic tank, a PC-driven control unit, a positioning system, and piezoelectric transducers used here for the first time in an array mode. To assess the possibilities and limits of seismic imaging of small-scale structures in sandbox models, different geometry setups were tested in the first 2-D experiments that also tested the proper functioning of the device and studied the seismo-elastic properties of the granular media used. Simple two-layer models of different materials and layer thicknesses as well as a more complex model comprising channels and shear zones were tested using different acquisition geometries and signal properties. We suggest using well sorted and well rounded grains with little surface roughness (glass beads). Source receiver-offsets less than 14 cm for imaging structures as small as 2.0–1.5 mm size have proven feasible. This is the best compromise between wide beam and high energy output, and is applicable with a consistent waveform. Resolution of the interfaces of layers of granular materials depends on the interface preparation rather than on the material itself. Flat grading of interfaces and powder coverage yields the clearest interface reflections. Finally, sandbox seismic sections provide images of high quality showing constant thickness layers as well as predefined channel structures and indications of the fault traces from shear zones. Since these were artificially introduced in our test models, they can be regarded as zones of disturbance rather than tectonic shear zones characterized by decompaction. The multiple-offset surveying introduced here, improves the quality with respect to S / N ratio and source signature even more; the maximum depth penetration in glass-bead layers thereby amounts to 5 cm. Thus, the presented mini-seismic device is already able to resolve structures within simple models of saturated porous media, so that multiple-offset seismic imaging of shallow sandbox models, that are structurally evolving, is generally feasible.