Research article

The technical challenges and outcomes of ground-penetrating radar: A site-specific example from Joggins, Nova Scotia

  • Received: 15 December 2020 Accepted: 07 January 2021 Published: 18 January 2021
  • The Carboniferous Joggins Formation is known for its complete succession of fossil-rich, coal-bearing strata, deposited in a fluvial meanderbelt depositional setting. Hence, the Joggins Formation outcrop is an excellent analogue for studying the 2D geological complexities associated with meanderbelt systems. In this research, a conventional ground-penetrating radar system was tested with the intent of imaging near-surface, dipping, strata of the Joggins Formation (potentially with subsequent repeats as annual erosion provides new visual calibrations). The survey was unsuccessful in its primary goal, and for future reference we document the reasons here. However, the overlying near-surface angular unconformity was successfully imaged enabling mapping of the approximately 8 m of overlying glacial till. A successful outcome would have allowed observations from the 2D outcrop to be extended into 3D space and perhaps lead to an increased understanding of the small (e.g., bedform baffles and barriers) and large (e.g., channel bodies) scale architectural elements, meanderbelt geometry, and aspect ratios. The study comprises a 42-line, 3.46 km ground-penetrating radar survey using a Sensors and Software pulseEKKO Pro SmartCart system. It was combined with a real-time kinematic differential global positioning system for the georeferencing of survey lines. The 50 MHz antenna frequency, with a 1 m separation, was chosen to maximize the depth of penetration, while still maintaining a reasonable resolution. The results show that many of the lines are contaminated with diffraction hyperbolae, possibly caused from buried objects near or under the survey lines or surface objects near the survey lines. A total of thirteen unique radar reflectors are described and interpreted from this work. The thick clay-rich soil overlying the Joggins Formation probably contributed to significant signal attenuation and the nature of the Carboniferous strata (dip of the beds, pinching and swelling of the beds, bed thickness, etc.) also contributed to imaging difficulties.

    Citation: Trevor B. Kelly, Grant D. Wach, Darragh E. O'Connor. The technical challenges and outcomes of ground-penetrating radar: A site-specific example from Joggins, Nova Scotia[J]. AIMS Geosciences, 2021, 7(1): 22-55. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2021002

    Related Papers:

  • The Carboniferous Joggins Formation is known for its complete succession of fossil-rich, coal-bearing strata, deposited in a fluvial meanderbelt depositional setting. Hence, the Joggins Formation outcrop is an excellent analogue for studying the 2D geological complexities associated with meanderbelt systems. In this research, a conventional ground-penetrating radar system was tested with the intent of imaging near-surface, dipping, strata of the Joggins Formation (potentially with subsequent repeats as annual erosion provides new visual calibrations). The survey was unsuccessful in its primary goal, and for future reference we document the reasons here. However, the overlying near-surface angular unconformity was successfully imaged enabling mapping of the approximately 8 m of overlying glacial till. A successful outcome would have allowed observations from the 2D outcrop to be extended into 3D space and perhaps lead to an increased understanding of the small (e.g., bedform baffles and barriers) and large (e.g., channel bodies) scale architectural elements, meanderbelt geometry, and aspect ratios. The study comprises a 42-line, 3.46 km ground-penetrating radar survey using a Sensors and Software pulseEKKO Pro SmartCart system. It was combined with a real-time kinematic differential global positioning system for the georeferencing of survey lines. The 50 MHz antenna frequency, with a 1 m separation, was chosen to maximize the depth of penetration, while still maintaining a reasonable resolution. The results show that many of the lines are contaminated with diffraction hyperbolae, possibly caused from buried objects near or under the survey lines or surface objects near the survey lines. A total of thirteen unique radar reflectors are described and interpreted from this work. The thick clay-rich soil overlying the Joggins Formation probably contributed to significant signal attenuation and the nature of the Carboniferous strata (dip of the beds, pinching and swelling of the beds, bed thickness, etc.) also contributed to imaging difficulties.


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