Infrared Thermography: Adding Another Layer of Information

While ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is one of the most versatile imaging techniques, it is not without certain challenges. GPR is designed to give a picture of an object’s outline as it resides underground.

It is unable to differentiate between, for example, a utility line and a small sinkhole. The operator is left to determine what objects are located beneath the ground based on their shape and other external pieces of information.

This can make differentiating certain subterranean features difficult. Sewer lines and underground electrical lines may look similar despite being different.

Infrared thermography is often paired with GPR to overcome these limitations. Let’s take a look at what infrared thermography is and why it provides unique information about underground features.

What is Infrared Thermography?

Infrared thermography is imaging that acts much like radar. Instead of simply determining the shape of an object, it determines the temperature, which in turn can provide a substantially more detailed perspective about subterranean objects.

The reason this is important is because different materials and geological features have different temperatures. Electrical lines, even when buried, tend to be hotter than their surroundings due to the fact that they are energized. Sewer lines are typically cooler and larger.

This allows infrared thermography to add more information to an otherwise limited picture.

Why Use Infrared Thermography?

While GPR does an amazing job in locating the shapes of underground features, the information it can acquire is limited. Infrared thermography adds more definition to those shapes without requiring any dirt to be moved.

With these added details comes a certain clarity that enhances the information about the ground beneath a property. Utility lines that may be unmarked, such as underground electrical lines running as a subcircuit, can be identified without posing danger to others or requiring unneeded repairs.

The other major advantage of infrared thermography is the fact that it can be used to differentiate between different geological features. A sink hole, for example, can appear similar to a deposit of lose-density sediment. Moisture will typically make the sinkhole warmer than the surroundings, which in turn can help to identify a potential danger from a mere geological feature.

Information is Your Ally

Information about what is beneath you is your ally in any activity dealing with construction. It can prevent costly repairs on utility lines, make any work safer for individuals to perform, and help to ensure that complications can be planned and minimized before a project begins.

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