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Ground-penetrating radar: A tool for mapping reservoirs and lakes

October 1, 1991

Ground-penetrating radar was evaluated as a tool for mapping reservoir and lake bottoms and providing stage-storage information. An impulse radar was used on a 1.4-ha (3.5-acre) reservoir with 31 transects located 6.1 m (20 feet) apart. Depth of water and lateral extent of the lake bottom were accurately measured by ground-penetrating radar. A linear (positive) relationship existed between measured water depth and ground-penetrating radar-determined water depth (R2=0.989). Ground-penetrating radar data were used to create a contour map of the lake bottom. Relationships between water (contour) elevation and water surface area and volume were established. Ground-penetrating radar proved to be a useful tool for mapping lakes, detecting lake bottom variations, locating old stream channels, and determining water depths. The technology provides accurate, continuous profile data in a relatively short time compared to traditional surveying and depth-sounding techniques.