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Utility Location and Mapping Surveys

Advanced utility location and mapping surveys to detect all kinds of buried service including electricity cables, conduits, plastic gas and water pipes, telecoms and drainage. Using GPR, we can also detect and map other underground features such as reinforced concrete, cellars, chambers, voids, basements, culverts, obstructions and foundations.

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How a utility survey is performed

A utility survey is performed using electromagnetic location (EML) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) techniques to locate and trace both metallic and non-metallic buried services in accordance with PAS128.

Prior to any surveying, records searches (STATS) will be performed to determine which underground services are expected to be present. One of our surveyors will then attend site and systematically locate each of the services in turn, tracing their position using either EML or GPR as appropriate. Usually the positions of the utilities will be marked in real time on the ground, this information will then be recorded and put onto a drawing.

When more in-depth information about the subsurface environment is required, GPR data can be collected and post processed in the office. This will allow us to detect voids, obstructions, rebar, culverts, and other features which cannot easily be determined on-site.

(See our page On Site Detection vs. Post Processing for further information.)

Utility survey results

The deliverable from a utility survey will usually be in the form of a drawing with supplementary report. For some surveys, it can be appropriate to mark the locations of utilities directly on the ground in real time using temporary paint – in this case it is the paint marks themselves which are the deliverable.

The drawings from a utility survey will identify individual services as lines, as well as (if requested), other features picked up on the GPR survey such as areas of reinforced concrete, obstructions, and voids, on a clear drawing with indicative depths and PAS128 quality label.

It is important to note that a GPR survey alone is not a utility survey until the results have been combined with the results from the EML survey and on-site reconnaissance.


Ground Penetrating Radar vs. Electro Magnetic Location

Electromagnetic locators (EML) are relatively cheap with respect to Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). In addition, the standard utility survey procedure requires the identification of utilities by lifting covers and that complements EML survey methodology of clamping and tracing individual services. For those reasons EML is more established as a technique for detecting underground utilities.

However, GPR can recover much more information about the below ground environment and detect more different kinds features than EML (including plastic services). GPR can also be deployed without manhole access. GPR is therefor an integral part of the underground utility survey procedure and should always be included as part of a survey.

(See our page Ground Penetrating Radar vs. Electromagnetic Location for further information.)


PAS128 provides guidance for the specification of a utility survey, how it should be performed, and the deliverables which should be produced. Most utility surveys within the UK are specified in accordance with PAS128.

To be compliant with PAS128, all utility surveys should incorporate both EML and GPR. This allows the strengths of both techniques to be combined to produce the best results possible and offset each technologies limitations.

(See our page What is PAS128 for further information about PAS128).

Our Projects

Explore other applications our non-destructive GPR surveying services have been utilised for here.
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