GRSG Conference 2020 Presentation


Author: Jan Francke

Modern GPR is a branch of geophysics which taxes the superlatives: the highest resolution, the most diverse range of applications, the easiest to use instrument.

It is perhaps also the most oversold technique, with purveyors often relying on the “black box” reputation of the method and their client’s misunderstanding of fundamental concepts.

Such specsmanship predates the commercialization of the technology five decades ago, although recent years have seen a growth in extraordinary claims gaining acceptance in some markets.

Systems purporting to penetrate hundreds of meters using “megawatt” transmitters from the former Eastern Bloc have been promoted for mineral exploration, particularly in Australia and Africa.

Other pseudo-radar concepts, such as the use of collimated RF beams to achieve kilometers of penetration with decimeter accuracy, have targeted uninformed petroleum and mineral exploration clients.

We will examine the history of extraordinary GPR claims within the context of conventional physics, from the first measurements in the 1910s which expected to achieve kilometers of penetration to today’s well-publicized oil and mineral finding resonant radar systems.

In each case, such claims and obfuscation of facts further erodes the already somewhat tenuous reputation of GPR as a useful subsurface mapping technique. We will also review the future of GPR technology, from cloud processing and drones to surveillance and monitoring radars.

Jan Francke has spent the entirety of his 30 year career in geophysics on a quest to understand where ground penetrating radar works. He runs Groundradar Inc, which designs and deploys custom GPR systems for mineral exploration. He has worked in over 100 countries, and holds a BSc, MSc and PhD all in GPR-related geophysics.