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Utilities Location with GPR

Ground Penetrating Radar or GPR is a popular tool in the context of non-destructive concrete testing. Concrete scanning is a process used to locate buried objects in concrete. This type of equipment is typically used to locate land mines; however, the construction industry has optimized its use to suit the requirements of concrete scanning. It can be used to test all types of concrete including walls, decks, slabs, and tunnels. Such a tool is capable of scanning a large area in just about minutes. That is why it has become more popular than radiography and other traditional concrete scanning methods.
GPR is becoming increasingly popular in the construction industry because of its safety and reliability. There is no need to evacuate the building or area where GPR is being used for concrete scanning. Because of this reason it is more common than concrete x-rays and other tools used for concrete testing or utility location. In addition, GPR does not require drilling or digging the surface for producing subsurface images. The equipment comes with a computer program that provides visualization tools for viewing the three-dimensional images obtained from subsurface feature information.
Normally a GPR system uses high-frequency radio waves that strike with the utilities located within the ground through an antenna or transducer. The same antenna collects information reflected back from the buried objects and sends it to the control unit. The system can either be operated by a single person or by a vehicle. The radio waves can reach up to a depth of 100 feet in dry ground. Antenna frequency determines the depth of penetration; for example antennas with low frequencies are used for deep penetration, while high frequency antennas are used for shallow inspections (up to 30 feet).
In addition to buried pipes and cables, GPR is also effective in detecting tank and drum location, geologic hazards, and unmarked grave location. The technology is used for shallow and deep ground penetrating applications. Deep penetration requires a low-frequency antenna. GPR scanning is also capable of locating voids within concrete structures. Contractors employ GPR to inspect airport runways, concrete floors, walls, slabs, dams, and tunnels. Buried utilities like gas and electric lines can be easily located using GPR systems. Most GPR systems are capable of penetrating manmade as well as natural surfaces.
Such a type of concrete testing or scanning tool is used for damage prevention in addition to geological investigation and road inspection. Some other applications of GPR include forensic investigations, medical imaging, planetary exploration, detecting timber condition, and building condition assessment. One of the major advantages of GPR is that it allows the assessment of underground features where the surface is optically opaque.

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