The Benefits (And Limitations) of GPR

With a broad range of applications, Ground Penetrating Radar (or simply GPR) is a key piece of equipment which, among many other uses, enables buried services, such as gas pipes, water pipes and fibre optic cables, to be located without the need for costly and disruptive excavation.

As a utility surveyor, GPR technology plays a crucial role in enabling us to deliver accurate and cost-effective specialist surveys for clients throughout the UK. In our latest blog post, we’ll explore some of the key benefits, as well as some drawbacks, of GPR.

The Many Applications of a GPR Survey

GPR emits electromagnetic waves in both MHz and GHz frequencies and, as a technology, has existed for around a century. There are many forms of GPR which have countless uses. For example, archaeologists use GPR to locate and map artifacts, while geologists may use GPR to assess and measure the thickness of ice. There are, frankly, hundreds of uses for GPR, owing to both its accuracy and non-invasiveness.

The Benefits of GPR Surveys in Construction

Although a GPR survey has many benefits within the wider construction industry, ranging from assessing the integrity of structures to identifying the location of rebar within concrete walls, GPR is primarily used to enable buried services and voids to be located and mapped without the need for excavation, and therefore play a crucial role in countless projects. By mapping out said services and voids, GPR greatly reduces the risk of unforeseen issues occurring, for example, by enabling contractors to know the precise location of services to avoid the accidental striking of assets. GPR plays a key role in enabling costly mistakes and disruptive project delays to be mitigated, which is why it is often instructed by design professionals.

The Limitations of GPR

GPR is undoubtedly powerful, and it is a piece of equipment our team use on a daily basis. However, it is crucial to manage expectations – GPR does indeed have limitations, which is why GPR is generally used alongside other techniques to provide a comprehensive utility survey.

The most common limitations of GPR arise owing to surface conditions such as soil moisture levels which can hinder GPR readings, as can vegetation. Additionally, GPR alone is unable to categorically verify or identify services, it can only determine if they are present within the ground. It then relies on the user’s ability and knowledge to identify the findings.

Other common limitations are that it can only locate, rather than measure, the depth of  voids. Furthermore, in order to gain a full appreciation of a site, GPR should be used alongside other equipment, and it is always recommended to have a topographical survey drawing survey to present the utility survey drawing with clear site context.

How Amethyst Surveys Can Assist

In summary, GPR equipment is vital for utility surveyors and form crucial part of a wider utility survey. For over two decades, Amethyst Surveys have used GPR, as well as EML and other equipment, to support the construction and civil engineering industries.

We recognise that each project is unique, and we would therefore be very happy to discuss your requirements so our highly experienced team can advise you accordingly.

Should you be looking for further information on how a GPR survey or other specialised survey can support your project, contact Amethyst Surveys for bespoke advice.