Engineering Seismology with Applications to Geotechnical Engineering
SEG Distinguished Instructor Short Course 2015

Öz Yilmaz


The near-surface is the subject of all three branches of seismology --- earthquake seismology, exploration seismology, and engineering seismology. The difference is not just a matter of scale, but also the nature of seismic wave propagation. 

The narrow scope of engineering seismology includes its applications to geotechnical site investigations, and seismic microzonation to determine soil amplification and liquefaction susceptibility within a municipal area to estimate the earthquake risk. The broad scope of engineering seismology also includes its application to groundwater exploration, coal and mineral exploration, geothermal exploration, and investigations of historical buildings and archaeological sites. This course is devoted to application of the seismic method to delineate the near-surface geology primarily for geotechnical remediation of the soil column for civil engineering structures. Nevertheless, the course also includes case studies for the broader scope of engineering seismology.


The following topics will be addressed in this course:

  • Seismic waves: body waves, surface waves, the dispersion spectrum, and Rayleigh-wave dispersion
  • Seismic modeling of the soil column: P-wave velocity estimation, shallow seismic imaging, S-wave velocity estimation, borehole velocity measurements, and correlation of seismic velocities with geotechnical borehole data
  • Site characterization: five case studies
  • Landslide investigations: hydroelectric dam project site, refinery project site, and residential housing project site
  • Active fault investigations: nuclear power plant project, refinery project, and subsea road tunnel project
  • Seismic microzonation: refraction seismic survey and reflection seismic survey
  • Geophysical investigations of historic buildings: the Great Church of St. Sophia, the Mosque of Sultan Mehmet, the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, and the Bridge of Emperor Justinianus
  • Exploration of earth resources: groundwater exploration, coal exploration, mineral exploration, and geothermal exploration

Course Objectives

A review of seismic wave propagation and a comprehensive survey of shallow seismic imaging, P- and S-wave velocity estimation for seismic modeling of the soil column, and case studies to demonstrate the power of the seismic method to solve engineering problems --- landslide investigations, soil amplification, liquefaction, active-fault investigations, seismic microzonation, geophysical investigations of historic buildings, and earth resource exploration.

Who should attend

Geophysicists, geotechnical engineers, earthquake engineers, and engineering geologists.


Öz Yilmaz

Öz Yilmaz received his BS in Geology with Geophysics Option from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1970, MS in Geophysics with research in rock physics and earthquake seismology from Stanford University in 1972, and after five years in the industry, PhD in Geophysics with research in exploration seismology from Stanford University in 1979. 

Öz has been working in the seismic industry for 41 years; and since 2000, he has broadened his interests in geophysics to include engineering seismology. Aside from numerous publications on all aspects of seismic data analysis, he wrote the SEG book entitled Seismic Data Processing published by SEG in 1987; with the expanded, two-volume second edition entitled Seismic Data Analysis published, again by SEG, in 2001.

For his ‘contributions to the science of geophysical exploration,' he was honored by the SEG in 1991 with the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award, and for his ‘teachings in geophysics,' he was honored by the EAGE in 1992 with the Conrad Schlumberger Award. For his ‘contributions to the geophysical profession in a global manner,' his biography has been included in Who's Who in the World, 1998 edition. For his ‘outstanding and influential contributions to the oil and gas industry, and fundamental developments in the field of geophysical prospecting,' he was elected a member to the European Academy of Sciences in 2002. For his ‘outstanding professional contributions,' he was honored by his Alma Mater University of Missouri-Rolla with an Honorary Professional Degree in Geology and Geophysics in 2003. For his ‘outstanding professional contributions,' he was honored by the Geophysical Society of Houston in 2009 with Honorary Membership. For his ‘outstanding publications,' he was honored by the SEG in 2011 with Honorary Membership.


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