4 Factors that Can Reduce the Accuracy of GPR in Underground Utility Locating

by admin in Uncategorized

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a geophysical technique that is widely used to study the shallow subsurface in a broad range of applications and environmental settings. It is extremely accurate in pinpointing locations of underground objects like pipes, rebar, etc. In fact, this technology is more accurate than other technological solutions that exist. However, like any “ground-breaking” technology, there are certain factors that negatively affect its effectiveness. Here, we will dive deep into GPR and the factors affect this technology.

  • Weather conditions: Moisture increases the conductivity of the ground. This can cause radar to bounce back off the subsurface. As you can probably imagine, this makes the winter months less than ideal for any kind of locating. Thus, crews should try limiting the use of GPR during this time in order to achieve the most accurate results. 
  • Soil conditions: The composition of the soil on site will have a direct effect on how accurate the GPR reading will be. If high concentrations of minerals, salts, etc. exist, the GPR can be obstructed. This is because in order for a good transmission to take place, magnetic and electrical waves must be unhindered as they interact with one another.
  • Surface area – clearance and obstacles: The quality of the data can be compromised when the surface being scanned is rough enough to cause the equipment to separate from the surface. For example, obstacles, like trees and bushes, can cause a delay of these signals.
  • Radar frequency – antenna: The higher the frequency, the smaller the radar; the lower the frequency, the larger the radar. This general rule means that it is better to use larger frequencies for deeper penetration and larger objects like pipes. In short, for utility locating, the antennas with lower frequencies are best.

We hope this will clear up any questions you have about ground penetrating radar and underground utility locating. As we said, despite certain limitations it is still one of the most effective technologies for locating underground objects and structures. In fact, its use is imperative when beginning any excavation project. We offer ground penetrating radar systems that can help make your next project safer or your crew. Our GPR services also help reduce the chances that valuable excavation machines will be damaged. 

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