Skip Navigation


Massachusetts Soils



Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR)

The United States Department of Agriculture (Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) has been using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology to study subsurface soil features since 1979.  GPR is a broad band, impulse radar system that has been designed to penetrate earthen materials. 

The radar transmits high frequency, short duration pulses of energy into the ground from a coupled antenna.  Electromagnetic waves are reflected, refracted, and diffracted in the subsurface by changes in electrical conductivity and dielectric properties of the soil material.  The travel time of the waves are analyzed to give depths of soil layers. Read more about GPR here

The effectiveness of GPR is highly site specific and dependent on soil properties.  Ground-penetrating radar soil suitability maps can be developed based on Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) data using Web Soil Survey.     

NRCS Uses of GPR