If you’re thinking of relocating a shrub in your backyard, do you need a GPR to scan your property? Probably not. Most residential homes contain mostly public utilities such as gas, electric, and water. These utilities can be marked simply by calling 811, otherwise known as Diggers Hotline. Most private utilities at a residential home, if present, only require a handheld electromagnetic locator. If your project requires floor or wall scanning, to seek out the unknown, this is where the GPR is most effective.
GPR is widely used for utility locating to identify the presence, depth, and location of buried utilities if utility maps are unavailable, or when a handheld electromagnetic locator simply won’t be effective. Such circumstances might include finding plastic pipes, buried underground tanks, or conduit located in a wall.
GPR systems consist of an antenna or antennas that emit radar pulses into the ground. The antenna sends short pulses of high-frequency electromagnetic waves (commonly in the microwave range) into the subsurface. When these pulses encounter different materials or interfaces within the ground, such as changes in soil composition or the presence of underground objects, some of the energy is reflected to the surface.
Utility Locating experts interpret the GPR data to identify subsurface features, anomalies, or targets. In the context of utility locating, these features may include pipes, cables, or other underground infrastructure. The depth of penetration and the resolution of GPR depend on various factors, including the frequency of the radar pulses. Higher frequencies provide better resolution but may have shallower penetration, while lower frequencies penetrate deeper but have lower resolution.
GPR is valued for its ability to provide real-time, non-destructive, and non-invasive information about the subsurface. It is particularly useful in situations where traditional excavation or drilling methods may be impractical or costly. However, it’s important to note that GPR has limitations, and its effectiveness can be influenced by factors such as soil composition, moisture content, and the presence of certain materials like metals. Interpretation of GPR data often requires expertise to distinguish between different subsurface features accurately.