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19:48 Mar-15-2010
J. Roderick McGillawee
GPR for search and rescue purposes

Gentlemen, it occurs to me, in reflecting on this current avalanche in the Cdn Rockies where search and rescuers were desperately trying to find buried people, that they could probably use a portable Ground Penetrating Radar Unit. [This is the second year in a row that this has been a major news story in the Rockies at this time of year.]
I have seen online or on TV somewhere a unit that is the size of a large lawn mower, powered by a Briggs and Stratton type gas engine to power the transmitter and receiver, but pushed manually in a parking lot or construction site. What I visualize is a similar unit mounted on a snowmobile towed sled, or suspended from a helicopter on a cable as a slung probe.
These searches are of course highly time sensitive, for life saving, but also would be effective for later recovery of presumed dead bodies and lost equipment like cars, pick-ups, snowmobiles, and dead horses, etc.
Can someone respond to the technical aspects of how well portable ground penetrating type radar would be for sensing through snow for buried targets? I know that moisture in the air does a number on micro wave transmissions, ie. when I am watching a Blue Jays game on TV via Shaw's "Star Choice", and a thunderstorm cell makes its way across the skies between the CN Tower, the orbiting satellite, and my receiver, there is a significant or total loss of image/audio reception. Hence there maybe also be issues with signal transmission of radar beams through "snowpacks".
It also maybe that no one has taken the time to explore this possible use of GPR for search and rescue purposes. It might be a business opportunity waiting to be developed!
Awaiting your responses:
Rod McGillawee, retired in Oshawa.


    
 
21:41 Mar-15-2010

Ed Ginzel

R & D, -
Materials Research Institute,
Canada,
Joined Nov 1998
1211
Re: GPR for search and rescue purposes In Reply to J. Roderick McGillawee at 19:48 Mar-15-2010 (Opening).

Roderick:
"Geophysical applications" in ice was in fact the first application of GPR.
On the website http://www.g-p-r.com/introduc.htm
they give some background. Ice and snow are ideal. But I would suggest that it might even be better applied as a serach and resue option from aircraft... the description from the website starts off with some relevant points:
The first ground penetrating radar survey was performed in Austria in 1929 to sound the depth of a glacier (Stern, 1929, 1930). The technology was largely forgotten (despite more than 36 patents filed between 1936 and 1971 that might loosely be called subsurface radar) until the late 1950's when U.S. Air Force radars were seeing through ice as planes tried to land in Greenland, but misread the altitude and crashed into the ice. This started investigations into the ability of radar to see into the subsurface not only for ice sounding but also mapping subsoil properties and the water table.


    
 


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