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Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

GPR Overview:

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a widely used technique in near-surface geophysics. It is very similar to reflection seismology, in that the product is generally an image of detailed structures in the subsurface (e.g., the orientation of interfaces in a sedimentary sequence). GPR sends out a pulse of electromagnetic energy, traveling as a wave and centered around the dominant antenna frequency (typically 50 MHz – 1 GHz).  The instrument has both a transmitting (Tx) and receiving (Rx) antenna.  When the outgoing electromagnetic pulse encounters a contrast in dielectric permittivity, some of the energy bounces back to the receiving antenna, where it is recorded.  The travel times of the reflected energy (typically recorded in ns, nanoseconds – remember this energy is traveling at a significant fraction of the speed of light) provide information about the depths of interfaces in the subsurface. The GPR method is typically suited for shallow surveys that need a high resolution, so it is it is prominent in environmental and engineering applications.


Radar does not work well in highly electrically conductive regions, since conductive materials attenuate electromagnetic waves quickly.  Time-to-depth conversions require accurate estimates of the EM wave velocity in the subsurface, which can be obtained either by fitting hyperbolas in the recorded data or by acquiring multi-offset data.

The GPR method has also been used in the following geological applications; sedimentary/soil structure, tree roots study, contaminant mapping, water table mapping, water content of soils, glaciology, concrete integrity and archaeology.

GPR data example


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