Do peatland microforms move through time? Examining the developmental history of a patterned peatland using ground-penetrating radar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Andrew Binley
  • Xavier Comas
  • Nigel J. Cassidy
  • Andy J. Baird
  • Angela Harris
  • Jan Van Der Kruk
  • Maria Strack
  • Alice M. Milner
  • James M. Waddington

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • GKSS Forschungszentrum Geesthacht GmbH
  • Department of Geography and Environmental Science
  • Lancaster Environment Centre
  • Lancaster University
  • Department of Geosciences
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • School of Physical and Geographical Sciences
  • Keele University
  • University of Leeds
  • Geography, School of Environment and Development
  • University of Manchester
  • Institute of Bio- and Geosciences
  • University of Calgary
  • University College London
  • McMaster University


Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to map subsurface patterns in peat physical properties, we investigated the developmental history of meso-scale surface patterning of microforms within a raised bog. Common offset GPR measurements were obtained along a 45-m transect, at frequencies ranging from 100 to 900 MHz. We found that low-frequency (central frequency < 240 MHz) GPR could not adequately represent the subsurface structures of the peatland because individual peat layers were too thin. However, more detailed high-frequency measurements (central frequency ≥ 240 MHz) showed a striking pattern of subsurface reflections that dip consistently in a northerly direction. The angle of these dipping reflectors is calculated using a semblance algorithm and was shown to average 3.9° between a depth of 1.0 and 2.5 m. These dipping reflectors may indicate downslope migration of surface microforms during the development of the peatland. Based on the estimated angle and the rate of peat accumulation, the average rate of downslope propagation of these surface microforms is calculated at 9.8 mm per year. Further survey work is required to establish whether the downslope migration is common across the peatland.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberG03030
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number3
Early online date18 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012


  • ecohydrology, ground-penetrating radar, hydrogeophysics, peatland development