What Can GPR Find?

Explaining GPRS’ Most Versatile Tools

What Can GPR Find?

Explaining GPRS’ Most Versatile Tools

If you need to find subsurface objects or anomalies, ground penetrating radar (GPR) is the tool for the job.

GPR is a non-destructive detection and imaging method which identifies subsurface elements either underground or within a surface such as concrete. It functions both along horizontal surfaces as well as on walls and other vertical structures.

According to the New York State Museum, GPR was invented in the 1930s as a tool for measuring the thickness of glaciers. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the technology advanced to a stage where it became affordable for widespread use.

GPR works by sending a radio signal into a structure. This radio wave bounces off any material it encounters and creates a reading that displays those “bounces” as parabolas. An experienced GPR technician interprets this reading to determine the type of material located.

GPR can detect both metallic and non-metallic objects, giving it a wide range of applications. This includes:


A worker conducts a utility locate using ground penetrating radar.
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) can detect a wide range of buried utilities including gas, electrical, telecommunications, and water.

Buried Utilities 

GPR can detect a wide range of buried utilities including gas, electrical, telecommunications, and water. The GPR’s signal detects materials commonly used for utilities such as various types of pipes, conduit, wiring, and fiber optic cable.



GPR can detect pipes of all sizes, used for utilities and other purposes. Metal pipes are the easiest for GPR to detect due to their strong interaction with the radio signal. However, GPR can locate all variety of PVC and plastic pipes as well. It can locate pipe regardless of whether it is full of water or another material.


Void Spaces

GPR can detect cavities within a structure or underground. GPR cannot measure the void’s depth.


Buried Items

GPR can detect variations within a ground surface, making it easy to detect most subsurface items located near the surface.

GPR can determine the location of unmarked graves for site planning purposes. Older grave sites can be harder to locate because of material deterioration. In most cases, however, the grave sites can be accurately marked out. 

It’s not just unmarked graves. GPR professional services are often utilized on popular television shows focused on the search for ancient artifacts and other historically valuable objects. GPRS has assisted with some of these investigations in the past, including appearing on the CW’s Mysteries Decoded series to investigate a Rhode Island home predating the American Revolution.

GPRS recently scanned the cornerstone of a 175-year-old church in Pennsylvania which, according to historical records, conceals a time capsule containing a treasure trove of religious documents.


Rebar and Structural Components

GPR scans are a critical tool in locating rebar and other structural items, either for an initial locate or to verify their correct placement in the construction process. 

GPR is commonly used to scan and identify subsurface elements. It’s always wise to conduct a GPR scan before beginning any renovation or demolition activities. 

The best way to know whether you need GPR is to contact an experienced GPR technician to evaluate your project and its needs. GPRS’ elite Project Managers not only know how to use GPR to Intelligently Visualize The Built World™, but they also know when it isn’t the best tool for the job and they need to use a different technology to help you keep your people safe, and your project on time and on budget. With over 400 GPRS Project Managers stationed in every major market across the United States, you can be sure that there are quality GPR scanning services near you. GPRS provides a host of infrastructure visualization services to help you locate and evaluate your utilities and other subsurface structures.

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Note: GPRS does not provide geophysical, geological, land surveying or engineering services. If you need such services, please contact an appropriate professional.