American Society of Civil Engineers

Accuracy of Ground-Penetrating Radar for Concrete Pavement Thickness Measurement

by George Morcous, Ph.D., P.E., (corresponding author), A.M.ASCE, (Associate Professor, Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, 105B PKI, 1110 South 67th St., Omaha, NE E-mail: and Ece Erdogmus, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE, (Associate Professor, Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, 205A PKI, 1110 South 67th St., Omaha, NE. E-mail:

Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, Vol. 24, No. 6, November/December 2010, pp. 610-621, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Core extraction is the most common method for measuring concrete layer thickness in pavement construction. Although this method provides a very accurate thickness measurement, it is destructive, time-consuming, and does not provide adequate representation of the concrete layer thickness variability. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a nondestructive evaluation technique that has been successfully used in several transportation applications, such as subsurface exploration and condition assessment. The main objective of this research is to investigate the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of using GPR in thickness measurement of concrete pavement for quality assurance purposes. A high-resolution 1.6-MHz ground-coupled antenna was used to perform grid scans and measure concrete thickness for several laboratory and field experiments. Results indicated that the use of metal objects underneath the concrete layer to improve bottom surface reflectivity was necessary for a reliable thickness measurement. Also, the use of calibration cores to determine the actual dielectric properties of the concrete was essential for accurate thickness calculation. An average accuracy of 98.5% was achieved when steel plates were used underneath the concrete layer and two cores were extracted for calibration. The effect of concrete age on GPR thickness measurement accuracy was also investigated.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Concrete pavements
Nondestructive tests
Quality control

Author Keywords:
Concrete pavement
Nondestructive evaluation
Ground-penetrating radar
Quality assurance
Thickness measurement