We have many jobs a year that require a unique approach and even a little sleuth work. Often, we get calls to aid in cemetery restoration work and it always adds a little diversity to the “norm” jobs of inspecting structures and pavements, locating buried structures and utility lines, and studying soils and bedrock. This type of work allows is to step out of our comfort zone, put on our thinking caps, and allow us to do some bona fide detective work. One could say we are the Sherlock Bones of cemetery restoration.
What is GPR?
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a revolutionary device that allows us to non-obtrusively view what’s beneath the earth’s surface before you dig! It uses a geophysical method with radar pulses to image the subsurface. This non-destructive method uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band (UHF/VHF frequencies) of the radio spectrum, and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of GPR’s technology is that fact that it is non-destructive. This is especially helpful when it comes to locating human remains. On one occasion in Jackson, Kentucky our technician had a crowd of on-lookers as he used GPR to find approximately ten unmarked grave sites and several others where the head stones had been moved from their original location due to vandalism.
On another occasion, we were called to Old Green Castle Cemetery to once again locate unmarked graves, but this time for graves dating back to the 1800s! Of the 9 long-forgotten graves, many of them were those of Civil War veterans who were hastily buried due to overcrowding. With GPR, we were able to determine exactly these forgotten graves were so that they could then be properly marked and/or moved to a new site.