The world is ever-changing, and whatever occurs underground significantly influences what occurs above ground. So, there is nothing fascinating like digging up new information from underground, especially when you are undertaking a project that demands huge excavations. Using GPR surveys, you can now locate virtually anything that lies underground. The GPR survey can be very helpful in locating any pipes, water, and electronics underground by using radar.
What exactly is a Ground Penetrating Radar?
A ground penetrating radar is a technology that is extensively used in geotechnical investigations to locate forensic evidence, archaeological relics, subterranean cavities, buried utilities, as well as other applications.
How does Ground Penetrating Radar work?
First, we need to understand what RADAR means. It is an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. Therefore, the entire detection process works by the transmission of minimal duration pulses of electromagnetic energy into the environment after which the return echo is timed from a reflector. While there are numerous radar applications such as air traffic control and highway speed traps which use air as the medium, for subsurface radar investigations, the earth the carrier medium for the signal –electromagnetic.
If you understand how MRI machines work, then you can easily figure our GPR technology. The technology emits non-invasive, high-frequency radar pulses that soil, rock, water, and ice to create images of the subsurface.
The Underground- The Nest Frontier for Utility Mapping?
What comes into your mind when you hear the term urban sprawl? Well, our imagination drives us to a sea of urban townhouses or elegant skyscrapers donning the skyline. Seldom do we think of what is beneath these skyscrapers: the intricate web of cables and pipes that lie beneath the sidewalks of these buildings. It is these unseen networks that carry away our waste, power our cities and link our telecommunications.
Just like the cities that constitute the urban sprawl, these networks were not designed strategically. Actually, Underground infrastructure is amorphously developed-with developments in communications technology, a new pipe was laid down – and with the original company that placed the infrastructure there collapsed, merged or underwent restructuring, their data was also buried with all its wiring beneath. In our quest to modernize the transit system of our cities, the hidden infrastructure beneath has really been a great nightmare.
A case in point is in Los Angeles, USA. When Elon Musk’s Boring Company commenced its boring its first tunnel, it had to start by clearing with the utility companies that might be having utility lines within the area. Any small mistake by Elon Musk could have resulted in an entire neighbourhood experiencing a power outage or even a torrent of raw sewerage could have been spewed into the street.
Advancements in GPR technology- handy in ground probing radar surveys.
For a long time, electromagnetic tools have been used to locate wires and any conductive material underground. Admittedly, the tools have been superb in identifying metals below the ground, but very useless in sensing nonconductive pipes made of plastic, clay or concrete. As a result of this, there have been several incidents of destruction of underground infrastructure that, according to Damage Information Reporting Tool’s 2016 report resulted in nearly $1.5 billion worth of damage In USA and Canada alone.
The good news is that using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey, you can now locate virtually anything that lies underground. The GPR survey can be very helpful in locating any pipes, water, and electronics underground by using radar. Using ground-penetrating radar, archaeologists, geographers, and city planners can now prevent making pricey mistakes in the course of their work. Actually, going by recent findings credited to ground probing radar surveys, man-made caves have been discovered under Nottingham and a maze of tunnels has been unearthed under Rome.
GPR technology is not a new thing -it was patented in 1910- and the heavy hand-held devices have been in use for quite some time now. However, lately, its levels of detail, affordability, and accessibility have witnessed phenomenal gains. Notably, the power of the gadgets to generate 3D visualizations has greatly improved over time.
Increasingly, GPRS surveys are being used for underground utility mapping prior to excavation to locate utilities before the excavation process begins. The use of GPRS surveys in conjunction with Google Earth image has been very helpful in the preliminary stage construction.
Today, if you undertake a GPR survey, you will get very detailed maps of underground cables and pipes that were invincible without digging. And, for developers, ground penetrating radar surveys have been a boon for their cost considerations. Moreover, using ground probing radar surveys has greatly minimised traffic disruptions that were common before the development of this technology. What’s more, you no longer have to worry about grim encounters such as the 2013 discovery of 4000 skeletons by London construction workers while digging around a transit line.
Even in new cities that lack a decrepit network of old cables and sewer lines, a GPR survey is still very important when constructions begin. Any change to soil density of an area can result in result in elevation of roads that constitute our navigation system and thereby impact on aspects of infrastructural planning. Alternatively, the result could be a shift in the position of the existing underground utility pipes. Of notable mention are the cases of New Orleans and Mexico City that are gradually sinking and the geographical shifts portend very serious damage to the infrastructure of these cities.
Clearly, radar technology, and to be specific, the use of Ground Penetrating Radar Surveys will be the future of underground utility mapping for any constructions taking place-anywhere.