Efficiency of ambient vibration HVSR investigations in soil engineering studies: backfill study in the Algiers (Algeria) harbor container terminal


This paper deals with the contribution of the ambient vibration horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (HVSR) method in soil engineering studies, particularly in backfill compactness assessment. The study is based on 60 ambient vibration recordings performed in 2015 at the container terminal of Algiers harbor, subjected a year before to a geotechnical study based on 23 boreholes and 13 cone penetration tests (CPT) for backfill improvement. To highlight the contribution of the HVSR method, the results of the geotechnical and HVSR studies are first analyzed separately and then in combination. The HVSR method provides a compactness zonation map based on peak amplitude variation. Both methods define the same pattern: a southern section where the backfill is more compact, and a northern section where the backfill is less compact. This shows that the HVSR peak amplitudes are sensitive to compactness variations, which may be sufficient for qualitative zonation. In addition, with the combination of the two methods, rough estimations of shear-wave velocity and thickness of the backfill can be retrieved. This study shows that the HVSR method can be a very useful investigative tool in soil engineering studies. When the HVSR method is deployed before any conventional technique, a geotechnical investigation campaign can be significantly optimized. Moreover the combined interpretation brings complementary quantitative soil information.

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We thank the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) for their financial contribution and equipment lent for the ambient vibration investigation.

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Correspondence to M. Hellel.

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Hellel, M., Oubaiche, E.H., Chatelain, JL. et al. Efficiency of ambient vibration HVSR investigations in soil engineering studies: backfill study in the Algiers (Algeria) harbor container terminal. Bull Eng Geol Environ 78, 4989–5000 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10064-018-01458-y

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  • HVSR technique
  • Ambient vibration
  • CPT test investigation
  • Backfill compactness zonation