Ground-penetrating radar could be used as a non-destructive testing method to determine whether concrete dams need repairs or replacement, writes Peter Masters of Geophysical Survey Systems. In this article, Masters details the basics of the technology and offers an example of how GSSI used ground-penetrating radar to scan the surface of the CuaDat Irrigation Dam in Vietnam.



As the world struggles to improve its critical infrastructure, many are seeking out non-destructive testing (NDT) methods that can help to accurately determine what can be repaired and what needs to be replaced.

In the field of dam safety, NDT methods are seen as a way to cut down on the actual work that has to be done, while making sure that condition data is most accurate.Engineers, facility managers, and dam operators need accurate information on the structural health of their facility to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic incidents.

Earthquake monitoring systems can assist decision-making by providing predictive data before an earthquake and evaluating the structural integrity of the dam or levee before and immediately after an earthquake (Dam Safety Group, Ground-Penetrating Radar for Dam Investigative Applications, 2021)

dam technical inspection by Ground-penetrating Radar

Among the available NDT methods, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is growing in importance for dam evaluation applications. Increasingly, both public- and privately-funded dam owners are looking to GPR technology to inspect the dam infrastructure and surrounding areas.

GPR can be cost-effectively integrated with other types of ground surveys to build a visual understanding of the overall subsurface of the site. The technology can be rapidly deployed, provides an effective means to evaluate subsurface information, and contributes to continuous monitoring and condition assessment throughout a structure’s life.

In response to the need for the best possible NDT methods, several industry experts founded the Dam Safety Group, which provides a wide range of geophysical and seismic techniques and technologies to address non-invasive investigation, maintenance, and monitoring of dams, embankments, and levees. The founding members include Geometrics Inc., Kinemetrics Inc., Robertson Geo, IRIS Instruments, and GSSI. [2]