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Evaluation of landslide hazards with ground-penetrating radar, Lake Michigan coast

August 3, 1999

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and boreholes were used to investigate a landslide-prone bluff at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the northeastern coast of Lake Michigan. Based on borehole observations, sediment underlying the area is homogeneous, consisting of well-sorted, medium to coarse sand. GPR penetrated up to 20 m deep in these sediments, revealing the late Quaternary stratigraphy in great detail. We define four units, or radar facies, based on criteria similar to those used in seismic stratigraphy. Directly beneath a landslide at Sleeping Bear Point (and nowhere else in this survey) is a deeply incised, channel-fill deposit that intersects the shoreline at a high angle. The buried channel is at least 10 m deep and 400 m wide, and it might be a subglacially carved feature of Pleistocene age. A prominent, planar unconformity marks the upper surface of the channel deposit, which is overlain by stratified beach and dune material. Several crosshole GPR surveys were performed in the vicinity of the landslide: 1) a constant offset profile (COP), 2) a multiple offset gather (MOG), and 3) a vertical radar profile (VRP). Tomographic analysis of these data determined the velocity structure of sandy sediment that underlie the failed bluff. Because GPR velocity is dependent on electrical properties, we use it as a proxy for geotechnical properties of the soils. Our working hypothesis is that the hidden channel may act as a conduit for pore water flow between upland regions and Lake Michigan, and thereby locally reduce soil strength and promote slope failure.

Publication Year 1999
Title Evaluation of landslide hazards with ground-penetrating radar, Lake Michigan coast
Authors Walter A. Barnhardt, Bruce E. Jaffe, Robert Kayen
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70185076
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse