The shallow shear-wave refraction method works successfully in an area with a series of horizontal layers. However, complex near-surface geology may not fit into the assumption of a series of horizontal layers. That a plane SH-wave undergoes wave-type conversion along an interface in an area of nonhorizontal layers is theoretically inevitable. One real example shows that the shallow shear-wave refraction method provides velocities of a converted wave rather than an SH- wave. Moreover, it is impossible to identify the converted wave by refraction data itself. As most geophysical engineering firms have limited resources, an additional P-wave refraction survey is necessary to verify if velocities calculated from a shear-wave refraction survey are velocities of converted waves. The alternative at this time may be the surface wave method, which can provide reliable S-wave velocities, even in an area of velocity inversion (a higher velocity layer underlain by a lower velocity layer). ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.