Using Ground Penetrating Radar for Subsurface Utility Location

Using Ground Penetrating Radar for Subsurface Utility Location
March 2, 2021 admin

Using Ground Penetrating Radar for Subsurface Utility Location

Ground penetrating radar has been a transformational technology in the modern world of subsurface utility location and non-destructive testing, and is a core piece of equipment carried by our detection and location specialists. It is versatile, fast and the equipment is relatively compact meaning it can be used in many different scenarios. Most importantly, it is incredibly safe.

What is a ground penetrating radar?

Ground penetrating radar is the name given to the geophysical method of using radar pulses to scan and image below surfaces. Although it was first invented to detect objects buried deep underground, it has wide applications across all sorts of industries where detecting and locating things underground or beneath a surface may be necessary. Examples of applications include: archaeology, military detection of tunnels and bombs, autonomous vehicles and of course: locating underground utilities!

Why is it so important for subsurface utility engineering?

The application of ground penetrating radar technology has been incredibly important to the field of subsurface utility engineering as it has enabled non-destructive location of utilities that would be otherwise undetectable without breaking ground.

Unlike other electromagnetic location equipment that relies on utilities being conductive, ground penetrating radar can detect objects or structures that are non-conductive. This is extremely useful for underground utility location and scanning concrete because it can pick up non-metallic objects. For example, a plastic conduit or a concrete storm drain.

This has meant that the civil and construction industry has access to even more valuable subsurface information to be used for designing and planning without the need to dig or cut into the surfaces upfront. This saves significant time and effort, and is why GPR technology is an essential part of the Electroscan toolkit.

The science behind GPR imaging

DID YOU KNOW: the word radar was originally an acronym for radio detection and ranging?

Since it became available commercially in the 1970s, ground penetrating radar equipment has advanced but the core technology has remained the same.

Ground penetrating radar transmits electromagnetic energy in the form of high frequency radio waves into the ground. When this energy encounters an object, it may reflect the energy back towards the surface which is received by the antenna on the GPR device.

As the strength and path of the reflected signal may vary due to the depth of objects that you are looking for, the type of material the object is made from and the contents of surface area between the object and the ground penetrating radar device the precision of GPR can be limited.

For this reason, data captured through ground penetrating radar technology is classified as QL-C under the Australian standards for subsurface utility information.

Enhancing your data with GPS technology: the Electroscan difference

Electroscan’s ground penetrating radar equipment is integrated with 2D Real-time Kinetic GPS technology to make the data captured through GPR imaging even more useful.

By combining these technologies, we are able to capture the real world coordinates of utilities or objects below the ground or beneath the surface of concrete at the same time as depth and dimensions.

What this means for our clients is that the information gathered during our GPR scans can be used by both the design and construction teams without the hassle of additional calculations or transposition.

Electroscan offers utility detection, location and mapping services across Queensland to support all of your subsurface utility engineering needs. Electroscan’s highly skilled team of detection and location specialists use a comprehensive range of innovative technologies and surveying techniques to deliver certainty and help manage risks for your projects.

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