The geotechnical integrity of critical infrastructure can be seriously compromised by the presence of fractures or crevices. Non-destructive techniques to accurately detect fractures in critical infrastructure such as dams and highways could be of significant benefit to the geotechnical industry. This paper investigates the application of shallow seismic and georadar methods to the detection of a vertical discontinuity using numerical simulations. The objective is to address the kinematical analysis of a vertical discontinuity, determine the resulting wave field characteristics, and provide the basis for determining the existence of vertical discontinuities based on the recorded signals. Simulation results demonstrate that: (1) A reflection from a vertical discontinuity produces a hyperbolic feature on a seismic or georadar profile; (2) In order for a reflection from a vertical discontinuity to be produced, a reflecting horizon below the discontinuity must exist, the offset between source and receiver (x0) must be non-zero, on the same side of the vertical discontinuity; (3) The range of distances from the vertical discontinuity where a reflection event is observed is proportional to its length and to x0; (4) Should the vertical crevice (or fracture) pass through a reflecting horizon, dual hyperbolic features can be observed on the records, and this can be used as a determining factor that the vertical crevice passes through the interface; and (5) diffractions from the edges of the discontinuity can be recorded with relatively smaller amplitude than reflections and their ranges are not constrained by the length of discontinuity. If the length of discontinuity is short enough, diffractions are the dominant feature. Real-world examples show that the shallow seismic reflection method and the georadar method are capable of recording the hyperbolic feature, which can be interpreted as vertical discontinuity. Thus, these methods show some promise as effective non-destructive detection methods for locating vertical discontinuities (e.g., fractures or crevices) in infrastructure such as dams and highway pavement. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.