As a long-time observer of the GPR community, I have become concerned about the increase of unfounded or misleading ideas proliferating in our community. In my recent keynote talk at GPR 2018 entitled ‘GPR Unmentionables’, I alluded to some of these topics but by no means fully addressed the issue. As a community, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard and work to reduce the proliferation of incorrect, unfounded or misleading ideas.

What can be done to up our standards? There are 3 major activities that can help.

  1. Increase our group awareness of the fundamental physics of what we are measuring and how those measurements are made. This entails improved training and education in all forums. Unfortunately, some of the fallacies are now embedded in educational forums which naturally poses a challenge. Some critical topics are never discussed in educational/training forums. As a general comment, we need users and students in the field to note that “if you want to stay relevant, you need to learn something new every day and commit to a life of continuous learning and improvement”. This means being a critical thinker and questioning the veracity of all information that you are presented.
  2. Improve the behavior of our vendor community. All commercial entities need to strive to differentiate themselves and their products. Advances in solid demonstrated performance should be applauded and respected. On the other hand, misleading statements and unfounded claims about some undefined performance parameter should be condemned. Having lived the commercial life, I clearly understand there is a delicate balance here; unfortunately, we have seen an increase in misleading and fallacious claims which are confusing to the users/buyers of GPR products. Let’s encourage all vendors to move to more transparency and honesty in the marketplace.
  3. We need to get the whole community sharing the ‘good’ and calling out the ‘bad’ information. Ideas and concepts that are misstated or incorrect should be identified and the concerns around the issue commented on by knowledgeable players in the GPR field. Healthy debate is good. At the end of the day, good ideas will live on and incorrect concepts will hopefully be weeded out and curtailed.

This blog is a starting point to kick off the idea of sharing concerns and providing clarification from those in the community who can contribute constructive comment and ask critical questions. Some topics we will raise in the near future are the role of water and the effect it has on GPR (an old chestnut – see our nostalgic trip back to an article we published in 1994 in our most recent newsletter), do GPR’s really produce 32 bit data, buzz words that have no meaning, and misleading statements about regulatory standards to name a few.

Stay tuned! Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Subsurface Reflections by Peter Annan