GPR Louvain

Georadar Research Centre

GPR research at UCL

The Hydrogeophysics research group of the Earth and Life Institute - Environmental Siences at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) integrates cutting-edge electromagnetic modeling and experimental approaches in both fundamental and applied research projects to enhance non-destructive imaging and characterization of subsurface and material properties using ultra wideband ground-penetrating radar (GPR). In particular, intrinsic full-wave modeling and inversion approaches accounting for both the medium and antenna together with their interactions have been developped to retrieve material electromagnetic properties. Integrated hydrogeophysical methods combining radar electromagnetic and soil hydrodynamic modeling have also been designed to map and monitor key environmental variables such as soil water content. Research projects cover as well geotechnical applications such as road inspection or imaging of water distribution networks in urban environments and non-destructive testing of materials such as wood. This longstanding research has in particular been supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS).

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Accurate modeling of the radar antenna-medium system is essential in full-wave inversion schemes to estimate the physical properties of a medium. For the particular case of far-field GPR with applications to planar layered media, we introduced a closed-form, frequency-domain, radar equation that simultaneously accounts for all antenna effects through frequency-dependent global reflection and transmission coefficients and wave propagation in 3-D layered media through exact Green’s functions (Lambot et al., 2004). Research has been in particular carried out in close collaboration with Delft University of Technology (Prof. Evert Slob) and Forschungszentrum Jülich (Prof. Harry Vereecken). Recently, the approach has been generalized to near-field conditions (Lambot and André, 2014), as prevalent in GPR applications.

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Knowledge of the dynamics of water in soil-plant-atmosphere systems is essential in agricultural, hydrological, and environmental research and engineering as it controls, at different scales, key hydrological processes, plant growth, contamination of surface and subsurface water, sustainability of natural ecosystems and biodiversity, and climate change. In particular, real-time mapping of surface and root zone soil moisture at the field scale using GPR opens promising avenues for hydrological studies and improving the efficiency of irrigation practices in precision agriculture.

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