Different Locating Techniques      

Follow Avatar Alberto Iaccarino
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Information is a most important ingredient in any undertaking. It permits planning an afternoon’s work or planning a multimillion dollar enterprise.

The difficulty of obtaining information about buried utility lines is that nothing is visible. Drawings, plans or information should always be obtained but they may be faulty or incomplete. A suitable technique has to be used to obtain the information from underground and a number of methods are available:

Ground Penetrating Radar

In some ground conditions GPR has certain advantages over alternative techniques because of its ability to ‘see’ non-metallic objects as well as metallic ones. However, GPR products tend to be bigger and more expensive, and can require increased levels of training to get the most from the equipment. Surveys can also take longer than with other methods, putting them beyond the scope of many operators.

Sonic Surveying

Injection of sound or ultra-sonic waves into the ground or along a line is a technique for tracing plastic water pipes but is not suitable for locating other buried services.

Note: Line is a continuous metal pipe, cable or other conductor capable of carrying an electric current.


Technique, yes and certainly the oldest, but technology – no. Although the hazel twig and all its variants continue to be used with varying effect by practitioners of these obscure but interesting arts, ease of handling is the only one of its features which can be claimed with any certainty.

Electromagnetic Location

This method of locating buried pipes, cables and sewers has become almost universal. Its main shortcoming is that it will not locate non-metallic lines such as plastic pipes. However, utilities taking the small amount of trouble to lay tracer wires with plastic pipes are not affected by this shortcoming.

The technology has a large number of advantages and Radiodetection specialises in developing and exploiting electromagnetic location technology.