Electrical Resistivity Sounding, Seismic Refraction and Magnetic Surveys for Characterization of a Building Site foundation at Bure campus of Debremarkos University, Ethiopia


  • Temesgen Ayenew University of Gondar
  • Fekadu Tamiru Wollega University


Building site foundation, Vertical Electrical Sounding, seismic refraction, Low Velocity Layer, magnetic anomaly, slice-stacked section


This study aimed at evaluating the near-surface lithologies at the site selected for building the
newly established Bure Campus of the Debre Markose University. To characterize the
foundation conditions, integrated geophysical surveys involving Vertical Electrical Sounding
(VES), seismic refraction, and magnetic methods were employed. The electrical survey results
show the presence of a relatively high resistivity topsoil, a low resistivity clayey soil as a second
layer underlain by an intermediate resistivity bed represented by highly to moderately weathered
bedrocks with intermediate resistivity, a very conductive highly fractured basalt, and at the
bottom highly resistive slightly weathered basalt. The seismic refraction survey mapped top, low
-velocity layers corresponding to top dry soil and clayey soil, an intermediate velocity bedrock,
and relatively dense, highly fractured basalt. Magnetic anomaly maps and sliced-stack sections
delineate the contact between rocks affected by different degrees of weathering while analytical
signal and tilt derivative maps have mapped the weak zones resulting from subsurface structures.
The correlation of the magnetic anomaly maps, geo-electric sections, and seismic refraction
models were used for determining the thickness of clayey soil, the depth to the bedrock, the
morphology of competent rocks, areal coverage of relatively highly weathered and fractured
rocks and for the identification of weak zones at the site. Finally, the study showed that
subsurface materials at the central portions of the study area would have lower bearing capacity
for building foundation than the rest of the area based on the anomaly signature mapped by the
three geophysical methods.