- Ground-penetrating radar
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a geophysical method that uses
radarpulses to image the subsurface. This non-destructive method uses electromagnetic radiationin the microwaveband (UHF/ VHFfrequencies) of the radio spectrum, and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures. GPR can be used in a variety of media, including rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements and structures. It can detect objects, changes in material, and voids and cracks.
GPR uses transmitting and receiving antennas. The transmitting antenna radiates short pulses of the high-frequency (usually polarized) radio waves into the ground. When the wave hits a buried object or a boundary with different
dielectric constants, the receiving antenna records variations in the reflected return signal. The principles involved are similar to reflection seismology, except that electromagnetic energy is used instead of acoustic energy, and reflections appear at boundaries with different dielectric constants instead of acoustic impedances.
The depth range of GPR is limited by the
electrical conductivityof the ground, and the transmitting frequency. As conductivity increases, the penetration depth also decreases. This is because the electromagnetic energy is more quickly dissipated into heat, causing a loss in signal strength at depth. Higher frequencies do not penetrate as far as lower frequencies, but give better resolution. Optimal depth penetration is achieved in dry sandy soils or massive dry materials such as granite, limestone, and concretewhere the depth of penetration could be up to 15 m. In moist and/or clay laden soils and soils with high electrical conductivity, penetration is sometimes only a few centimetres.
Ground-penetrating radar antennas are generally in contact with the ground for the strongest signal strength; however, GPR horn antennas can be used 0.3 to 0.6 m above the ground.
GPR has many applications in a number of fields. In the
Earth sciences it is used to study bedrock, soils, groundwater, and ice. Engineering applications include Nondestructive testing(NDT) of structures and pavements, locating buried structures and utility lines, and studying soils and bedrock. In environmental remediation, it is used to define landfills, contaminant plumes, and other remediation sites. In archaeology it is used for mapping archaeological features and cemeteries. It is used in law enforcement for locating clandestine graves and buried evidence. Military uses include detection of mines, unexploded ordnance, and tunnels.
Frankley Reservoirin the UKwas leaking 540 litres per second. In that year Ground-penetrating radar was used successfully to isolate the leaks. [Penguin Dictionary of Civil Engineering p347 ("Radar")]
Individual lines of GPR data represent a sectional (profile) view of the subsurface. Multiple lines of data systematically collected over an area may be used to construct three-dimensional or tomographic images. Data may be presented as three-dimensional blocks, or as horizontal or vertical slices. Horizontal slices (known as "depth slices" or "time slices") are essentially planview maps isolating specific depths. Time-slicing has become standard practice in archaeological applications, because horizontal patterning is often the most important indicator of cultural activities.
The most significant performance limitation of GPR is poor performance in high-conductivity materials such as clayey soils. Performance is also limited by signal scattering in heterogeneous conditions (e.g. rocky soils).
Other disadvantages of currently available GPR systems include:
*Interpretation of radargrams is generally non-intuitive.
*Considerable expertise is necessary to effectively design, conduct, and interpret GPR surveys.
*The cost of GPR equipment and software is relatively high.
*Relatively high energy consumption can necessitate large cumbersome batteries for extensive surveys.Recent advances in GPR hardware and software have done much to ameliorate these disadvantages, and further improvement can be expected with ongoing development.
In 2005, the
European Telecommunications Standards Institutedeemed it necessary to regulate GPR equipment and GPR operators to control excess emissions of electromagnetic radiation. The European GPR association (EuroGPR) was formed as a trade association to represent and protect the legitimate use of GPR in Europe.
Wall-penetrating radar can read through
walls and even act as a motion sensorfor police.
The "Mineseeker Project" seeks to design a system to determine whether landmines are present in areas using
ultra wideband synthetic aperture radarunits mounted on blimps.
* [http://www.eurogpr.org EUROGPR – The European GPR regulatory body]
* [http://www.gprmax.org GprMax – GPR numerical simulator based on the FDTD method]
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