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Subterranean Secrets
August 1, 2014   
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There are all kinds of surprising objects found under the ground during the construction of roads, bridges and similar projects. The secrets of what lies beneath the surface can be uncovered by using ground-penetrating radar (GPR). This method is increasingly used in civil engineering as well as in geology, environmental studies and archaeology.

Anna Lejzerowicz, a Ph.D. student at the University of Warsaw and a research worker at the Warsaw University of Technology, is pursuing a project that seeks to expand the range of possibilities offered by GPR technology.

Ground-penetrating radar is a cheap and easy method for detecting obstacles such as boulders, forgotten pipes or cables, Lejzerowicz says. It can be used to examine and interpret subsurface sediments and the course of the groundwater table. According to Lejzerowicz, GPR is a tool that works well in both “shallow geology” and various kinds of engineering studies, for example those needed during the construction of roads, bridges and levees.

The costs of using the GPR method in business projects are small and the method is easy to use, Lejzerowicz says. “There is no need for specialist equipment, drilling or any preparations,” she adds. “All you have to do is run a GPR along the area in question. The result is a radargram, an image of the subsurface structure of the terrain. An expert can interpret it accurately.”

Lejzerowicz examines subterranean layers up to 20 meters under the ground: mostly sand and gravel and other loose sediment. The studies make it possible to identify, for example, the direction in which the water flows, Lejzerowicz says. She compares the results of field observations with traditional sedimentological research and GPR profiles. Sedimentology is the study of sediments such as sand, mud and clay, and the processes that result in their deposition. The studies are conducted both during fieldwork and in laboratories.

Karolina Olszewska
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