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GPR Case studies

GPR sees use in a wide range of interesting and challenging applications. One of the best ways to learn about GPR and whether it can provide you with a solution is to see how GPR has been used by others.  Sensors & Software’s customers and applications specialists have used GPR in almost every conceivable way.  The case histories provided here are a few examples.  If you have an application and don’t see a similar GPR  case study, contact our application specialists using Contact Us or Ask the Expert about other studies we have available.

Agriculture & Forestry

Agricultural Drainage

Agricultural drainage systems have been in use worldwide for centuries. Some systems are constructed of modern plastic piping while others are made of clay tiles and some are even stone filled trenches. Locating and determining the condition of these drain systems represents a major challenge as there are seldom records of their location.

Golf Green Management

Golfers always want perfect putting greens. To ensure the specialty grasses on the greens surface are in the best condition, greens keepers are turning to GPR for help.


Locating foundations from the not-so distant past

When we think of archaeology, we usually think of searching for artifacts from ancient civilizations in distant lands but the reality is that many archaeological projects involve looking for nearby objects from the not-so-distant past. The following Noggin case study from Dr. Jarrod Burks from Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc. is a great example of rediscovering local, recent history.

Finding Graves in Cemeteries

What may seem like an odd requirement turns out to be quite a common need. Grave locations can be marked incorrectly or not marked at all. The causes can range from simple mistakes to lack of maintenance to intentional removal of all markers. GPR now provides a solution.

Irish Mound Archeology Site

Investigating tombs and burials is an archaeological necessity. GPR surveys are regularly used to assist in such investigations since extensive intrusive investigations are seldom permitted and extremely costly. This study shows the combination of GPR and magnetics being used on the Rathcroghan Mound in Ireland.

Historic Road Construction

The route of a 600 year old Viking road was unknown but suspected to cross a pasture in Denmark. A marker stone was located near a small stream in the field suggesting the road has passed though the area. In 1992, GPR surveying located the old road beneath the pasture and helped define the internal structure of a road.

Concrete Structures

Correlating line scan and grid scan data

Conquest® 100 is an integrated ground penetrating radar (GPR) system used for locating objects in concrete prior to cutting and coring. It’s critical that all objects are properly marked out to prevent damage and more importantly, personal injury.

Power Cable Detector PCD

PCD measures the magnetic fields created by current flow in electrical wiring. When wiring is embedded in or beneath concrete, PCD enhances the user’s ability to distinguish electrical cables from other structures.

Main Power Line Location

In planning the building’s refurbishing, the slab-on-grade floor was scanned to ascertain the path the main power line took and to check its depth. Conquest 100 ground penetrating radar with PCD (Power Cable Detection) provided a quick and easy solution.

Locate Radiant Heating Tubes

Ground Penetrating Radar is an effective tool for mapping out all embedments in concrete.

Conquest GPR maps Post-Tension Cable

Post-tension (PT) cables are used in concrete construction to allow thinner slabs and greater span lengths between support columns. These cables, composed of steel wires inserted into a plastic sheath, are subsequently “tensioned” and grouted after the concrete is poured.

Electric Cable in Concrete

The GPR anomaly was indeed the combined response of the rebar and the electrical cable. The cutting crew was able to avoid potential injury and the project continued on schedule.

Geotech & Environment

Saltwater Infiltration

In coastal areas, the influx of saltwater into shallow fresh water aquifers can have dire consequences on drinking water supply and create other environmental concerns. The results in this case study derive from an archeological survey in the UK. While searching for an ancient Roman road, a graphic demonstration of the impact of salinity change on GPR response was observed.

GPR Bathymetry

Hydrologists and engineers often require accurate water depth and information about sub-bottom stratigraphy in shallow freshwater lakes and rivers. Uses can vary from estimating available water volumes to the engineering design of new structures.

Mapping underground fuel storage tanks at a local gas station

Real estate transactions regularly create the need for an environmental site assessment. Confirming the presence or absence of underground storage tanks (USTs) can be a critical factor in contract closing. GPR reflection mapping surveys are commonly used to identify the presence of USTs. The example presented shows five storage tanks plus related pipes discovered at the site of a gasoline station.

Golf Green Management

Golfers always want perfect putting greens. To ensure the specialty grasses on the greens surface are in the best condition, greens keepers are turning to GPR for help.

Ice & Snow

Glacier Girl

In 1942, a squadron of aircraft were being ferried from the USA to England as part of the lend-lease of military equipment in WW II. The path would take the aircraft from Maine to Labrador to Greenland then Iceland and finally to Scotland. Weather and enemy tactics resulted in the squadron being forced to crash land on the Greenland ice sheet on July 15. While all crews (25 members in total) were safely rescued, the abandoned aircraft were swallowed up by the snow and ice in no time.

Ski Resort Snow Management

Ski resorts depend on high quality snow conditions to attract discerning skiers. Knowing the quantity and distribution of snow on the slopes determines when and where to move and/or make snow. Both require costly resources to ensure a uniform snow base is in place for the maximum time each year.

GPR & Arctic Oil Exploration

Arctic oil exploration requires safe transportion of heavy equipment over ice-covered areas. Use of seismic vibrator sources demand that safe ice thickness  be assured and quality of data can depend on finding grounded ice. This case study follows the evolution of the IceMap system now widely used for ice thickness mapping.

Snow to Water

Snow is major source of fresh water. This case study shows how GPR provides key control information needed for converting snow pack to hydrological forecasts.

Glacier Mapping

Glaciers contain large volumes of fresh water. Mapping glaciers 3D shape indicate the volume of available water. This study highlights work by University of Calgary scientists engaged in mapping the volume of Stagnation Glacier in Canada.

Locating Pipes & Cables

Subsurface utility engineering for water installation

SUE level B calls for the use of geophysical methods to verify the horizontal and vertical positions of buried utilities. Knowing that ground penetrating radar (GPR) could locate metallic, non-metallic and abandoned utilities, the city’s project team contacted Sensors & Software for a product demonstration of a LMX200™ GPR system.

Locating a Storm Water Sewer with GPR

LMX200 GPR was used to locate a storm sewer pipe to ensure successful  HDD installation of fiber lines.

Mapping Multiple Utilities

The project deliverable included marking the utilities on the ground, and delivering a report detailing the findings to the manufacturing plant.

Subsurface Mapping Helps Transit Design

Subsurface utility mapping and engineering for a new transit system deployed a Noggin GPR to locate the position and depth of buried infrastructure. Identifying potential conflicts and issues early in the design process helped ensure the project proceeded according to schedule.

Environmental Assessment

Environmental site assessments often require sites to be cleared for borehole drilling. In this example, GPR was used to map storage tank locations at a gas station to allow borehole soil sampling to be safely performed.

Subsurface Utility Mapping

GPR can be a powerful tool for mapping the location and depth of metallic, non-metallic, plastic, concrete and asbestos-concrete utilities. Mapping with GPR to systematically cover an area can quickly reveal the distribution and character of multiple buried utilities.

Verifying Gas Line Location

Verifying the location of buried utilities is a common use of GPR. Gas lines are particularly important targets owing to the dangerous nature of the material carried. In many cases the gas piping is plastic. This study compares use of traditional electromagnetic locating and GPR for a metal gas pipe.

GPR for buried utility locating

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) use radio waves to non-destructively locate objects and subsurface structures in materials like soil, rock, concrete, asphalt, wood and water.

Mining & Quarrying

GPR for Kimberlites

Kimberlites often host diamonds – the challenge is to determine if diamonds of economic significance are present. In some settings, GPR provides a powerful way to addressing this challenge.

GPR for Lateritic Nickel

GPR helps define the economic potential of lateric nickel deposits by delineating major stratigraphic units in highly weathered rocks. Nickel-rich lateric areas have proven to be transparent to GPR allowing structural imaging to depths of 20-50 m depth.

Placer Deposit Exploration

Gold, diamonds and other heavy minerals are deposited in preferred locations by fluvial sediment deposition. This placer exploration project in Guyana illustrates how GPR is used to identify favourable deposit locations to depths in excess of 70m.

Police & Security

FINDAR® Speaks for Murder Victims

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) officials surveyed the crime scene with FINDAR and were not disappointed with the technology’s ability to deliver results. Under three feet of soil, a decomposing body was discovered.

GPR guides exhumation

In August 1968, a body identified as Sandy was found shot five times and dumped off Route 82 in a patch of poison ivy in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Eight months later, the skeletal remains thought to be Martha were found about five miles away in French Creek State Park. Authorities believed both girls were murdered at the same time.

Buried victim search & rescue

When disaster strikes and people are buried alive, search and rescue teams need to be readily deployed with simple-to-use search techniques. Teams commonly employ audible detection of victims’ cries for help, trained sniffer dogs and even cell phones. More recently, remote sensing technologies are starting to emerge. This case study examines the use of customized GPR technology to locate buried victims in an experimental facility

Murder in Sweden – GPR Guides Evidence Search

After years of police investigations, it was Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) from Sensors & Software that helped solve the mystery of missing females whereabouts.

Roads & Bridges

Pavement Structure Reports

GPR is an accurate and cost-effective tool for pavement structure analysis. Combining the easy-to-deploy Noggin GPR system and advanced but easy-to-use EKKO_Project software enables users to quickly process road survey results into meaningful subsurface information. The inspection of roads has just become a lot easier and more affordable!

Bridge Deck Condition Assessment

The degree of corrosion of metal reinforcing is a major concern with bridge decksand similar concrete structures. Since the presence of saline water and corrosion by-products causes strong attenuation of GPR signals, measuring and mapping the variations in GPR signal attenuation has become an accepted practice to assess the condition of concrete structures.

Road Pavement Forensics

GPR can be a powerful tool for mapping the location and depth of metallic, non-metallic, plastic, concrete and asbestos-concrete utilities. Mapping with GPR to systematically cover an area can quickly reveal the distribution and character of multiple buried utilities.

Construction Practice Zoning

In many instances, historical records of construction and repair may not exist or be hard to locate. Noggin  GPR systems enable highway engineers to easily assess subsurface conditions over vast lengths of road.

Construction Practice Classifications

After correlating the GPR with other data, the abrupt localized changes were confirmed to be joints in the underlying concrete slab. The change in signal character is associated with fine grained material and water retained in the concrete joints.

Bridge Deck Evaluation

Monitoring the state of bridge decks is an ongoing need to evaluate deterioration. Corrosion of reinforcing steel and delamination of asphalt and concrete can be sensed with GPR. This example illustrates an area of chemical alteration in a bridge-deck. Deterioration is indicated by changes in signal amplitude.

Asphalt and Granular Thickness

Pavement structure data on the CPATT (Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technologies) test road at the University of Waterloo was acquired at speeds of 40 to 80 km/h (30 to 50 mph). The SmartTrailer configuration enables rapid acquisition of surface coupled GPR. All data were collected using a vehicle odometer at a user-defined spatial interval. DMI and GPS provide precise positioning.



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