Seasonal variations measured by TDR and GPR on an anthropogenic sandy soil and the implications for utility detection

Giulio Curioni, David Chapman, Nicole Metje

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
281 Downloads (Pure)


The electromagnetic (EM) soil properties are dynamic variables that can change considerably over time, and they fundamentally affect the performance of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). However, long-term field studies are remarkably rare and records of the EM soil properties and their seasonal variation are largely absent from the literature. This research explores the extent of the seasonal variation of the apparent permittivity (Ka) and bulk electrical conductivity (BEC) measured by Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) and their impact on GPR results, with a particularly important application to utility detection. A bespoke TDR field monitoring station was specifically developed and installed in an anthropogenic sandy soil in the UK for 22 months. The relationship between the temporal variation of the EM soil properties and GPR performance has been qualitatively assessed, highlighting notably degradation of the GPR images during wet periods and a few days after significant rainfall events following dry periods. Significantly, it was shown that by assuming arbitrary average values (i.e. not extreme values) of Ka and BEC which do not often reflect the typical conditions of the soil, it can lead to significant inaccuracies in the estimation of the depth of buried targets, with 1 errors potentially up to approximately 30% even over a depth of 0.50 m (where GPR is expected to be most accurate). It is therefore recommended to measure or assess the soil conditions during GPR surveys, and if this is not possible to use typical wet and dry Ka values reported in the literature for the soil expected at the site, to improve confidence in estimations of target depths.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Early online date25 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Seasonal electromagnetic soil properties
  • time domain reflectometry
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • field monitoring
  • geophysics
  • utility detection


Dive into the research topics of 'Seasonal variations measured by TDR and GPR on an anthropogenic sandy soil and the implications for utility detection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this