Ground penetrating radar equipment uses electromagnetic waves to locate buried pipes and other underground features. This real-time nondestructive testing technique is highly accurate and provides valuable data in a short amount of time. GPR allows workers to identify polyethylene water and gas pipes, fiber-optic cables and more in concrete and other materials that standard electric utility locating tools cannot find.

GPR’s transmitter antenna sends electromagnetic energy into the subsurface, which is reflected, refracted or scattered when it encounters changes in the geologic medium or a buried object with a different density than the surrounding material (Figure 1). The resulting information, including the reflection amplitude and time-travel data, are received by the receiver and recorded on the screen of the monitor.

Maximizing Efficiency and Accuracy in GPR Surveying

While some manufacturers may claim that their GPR system can find anything underground, it is important to understand the limitations of this technology. It is not the Holy Grail of utility locating and should never be relied upon as the only tool on any given project.

Using a GPR scanner in conjunction with a traditional electromagnetic and acoustic utility locator can provide the best possible results for any project. This helps to ensure that any buried pipes are located, identified, and marked with ease. GPR is also a great option for scanning overhead areas and tight spaces with as little as 2.5in (63.5mm) of clearance. In addition, modern units can provide data storage and sharing capabilities via an encrypted Wi-Fi connection to your mobile device and GPS-based positioning information.

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