Imagine how convenient it would be if there was a way to see what lies beneath the ground before you started digging. That is exactly what ground penetrating radar (GPR) allows people to do. While the earliest research in this field began in the early 1900s, the technology didn’t really take off until the 1970s. Since then, however, continuous improvements have been made that have completely changed the way that people locate and identify buried objects.
The system works by sending radar pulses down into the ground from a special transmitter on the attached antenna. These pulses are then reflected back to the surface where a receiver that is also located on the antenna measures the time that has elapsed and the strength of the signal. Information based on the data that is gathered is then shown on an attached screen. The person operating the GPR unit interprets the data to determine precisely where objects are located underground.
A GPR system can be used in a number of different ways. Some of the most popular uses include:
1. Utility location.
Utilities are often buried underground. Before digging, companies use ground penetrating radar to locate pipes and other underground utilities. This helps them determine where they should and shouldn’t dig in order to avoid damaging any existing systems. It also makes it possible for them to locate specific structures if they are in need of repair.
Years ago, archaeologists had very few high-tech tools available to them. Instead, they simply had to dig into the ground and hope for the best. Today, however, many archaeologists rely on ground penetrating radar to locate buried structures and artifacts. Once these items have been pinpointed using GPR, they can then begin excavating the area with confidence. This saves a lot of time and leads to a lot more discoveries.
3. Military use. The military uses
GPR to locate potential dangers that are lurking underground. For instance, they sometimes use this technology to find hidden tunnels or to locate explosive devices.
4. Geological studies.
Geologists rely on ground penetrating radar for a number of different purposes. Oftentimes, they use it to study the soil, bedrock, or groundwater in specific areas. It is even used in the mining industry to find areas where valuable items like gold or gems may be buried.
The uses of this technology are practically unlimited. In essence, any time objects are buried underground, a GPR system can be used to locate them. By pinpointing the exact location of buried objects or structures, the data can be used to eliminate unnecessary digging or to provide valuable information on the ground conditions in a specific area.
Most devices that use ground penetrating radar are mounted on wheels and are designed to be pushed like a cart or wheelbarrow. The person operating the system walks slowly behind, covering the area of ground that they are scanning. There are smaller handheld units available, as well. The style, size, and shape of each system all play a role in determining which types of applications it is best suited to handle.