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Using ground-penetrating radar to observe hidden underground water processes
Date:3/20/2008

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Among existing geophysical techniques, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology is of particular interest for providing high-resolution subsurface images and specifically addressing water-related questions. GPR is based on the transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves into the ground, whose propagation velocity and signal strength is determined by the soil electromagnetic properties and spatial distribution. As the electric permittivity of water overwhelms the permittivity of other soil components, the presence of water in the soil principally governs GPR wave propagation. Therefore, GPR-derived dielectric permittivity is usually used as surrogate measure for soil water content.

In the areas of unsaturated zone hydrology and water resources, GPR has been used to identify soil layering, locate water tables, follow wetting front movement, estimate soil water content, assist in subsurface hydraulic parameter identification, assess soil salinity, and support the monitoring of contaminants.

The February 2008 issue of Vadose Zone Journal includes a special section that presents recent research advances and applications of GPR in hydrogeophysics. The studies presented deal with a wide range of surface and borehole GPR applications, including GPR sensitivity to contaminant plumes, new methods for soil water content determination, three-dimensional imaging of the subsurface, time-lapse monitoring of hydrodynamic events and processing techniques for soil hydraulic properties estimation, and joint interpretation of GPR data with other sources of information.

GPR has known a rapid development over the last decade, notes Sbastien Lambot, who organized the special issue. Yet, several challenges must still be overcome before we can benefit from the full potential of GPR. In particular, more exact GPR modeling procedures together with the integration of other sources of information, such as other sensors or process knowledge, are requir
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@soils.org
608-268-4948
Soil Science Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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