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Ground Penetrating Radar

In many cases, it is as important to know what is beneath the ground as much as knowing what is above it. It is an impossible task if you don’t have the right equipment. A ground penetrating radar is the perfect solution to this conundrum.    

It can detect what is below the surface, providing critical insight for many professionals. It can be imperative in a number of fields. In order to understand how the ground penetrating radars work, we shall take a deeper dig.  

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How do the ground penetrating radars work?

Ground penetrating radars use high frequency range radio waves with generally range of 10 MHz to 2.6 GHz. These nondestructive waves are reflected from the underground structures and captured by the GPR to create a map. The returning signal is captured with the help of an antenna placed for the very purpose.

The mechanism is quite similar to those used in seismology except it uses electromagnetic waves instead of sound waves. Penetration depth achieved is based on a number of factors including the material and the frequency. While low frequencies reach deeper depths, higher frequencies give a clear picture as to what is inside the scanned material. It is a bit of a tradeoff which has to be made.     

Which surface can they penetrate into?  

The ground penetrating radars can be used to scan a large variety of surfaces including rocks, ice, granite, limestone, water and concrete among others. It is less effective in moist and clay laden surfaces. Penetration is also low in materials which have high electrical conductivity. GPR works quite well with dry and sandy soils. The technology, however, is most effective for penetrating into ice.  

What are the governing regulations?

Regulations to govern the level of electromagnetic emissions were put in place in 2005 by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. The European GPR association, or EuroGPR, is an organization that protects the legitimate use of the technology in Europe.  

What are the primary uses of ground penetrating radars?

There are a number of fields in which ground penetrating radars can be used. For military, it is used detect unexploded ordnance underneath the ground. It is also useful for detecting any underground tunnels.  These are also used by archeologists to scan for underground artifacts and study patterns. These are also used to make 3D models of underground layers. GPR is handy in exploring metals such as gold which is present with rock beds.   


Currently, there are some limitations with the ground penetrating radars. Firstly, an expert is needed to interpret the results accurately. A novice operator may not be able to definitively determine the results. The devices also take a fair amount of energy which can be a bit of a problem when it comes to extensive usage in the field.  

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