Applied Field Geophysics Workshop - Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Applications

Location: Rapolt, Romania

June 3, 2018 to August 18, 2018

Session dates: 
Session 1: June 3 – June 9, 2018 (6 days); Session 2: June 10 – June 16, 2018 (6 days); Session 3: June 24 – June 30, 2018 (6 days); Session 4: July 1 – July 7, 2018 (6 days); Session 5: July 15 – July 21, 2018 (6 days); Session 6: July 22 – July 28, 2018 (6 days); Session 7: July 29 – August 4, 2018 (6 days); Session 8: August 12 – August 18, 2018 (6 days)

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon gpr_workshop_syllabus.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Archaeological Techniques and Research Center (Canada), Dacian and Roman Civilizations Museum (Deva, Romania)

Project Director:

Isabel Morris (Princeton University); Andre Gonciar (Archaeological Techniques and Research Center)

Project Description

          This workshop aims at providing intensive training in applied field geophysical methods in an extraordinary environment in Southern Transylvania. Geophysical methods are an extremely versatile set of techniques used extensively in both research and practical applications from archaeology, to urbanism, forensics, geology, engineering. Field experience with these techniques is an exceptionally useful and lucrative skill to acquire, but training in these methods is limited to expensive manufacturer professional development and/or academic courses. These educational opportunities tend to sacrifice either the theoretical and technical foundations, or the practical use and interpretation of the methods. In contrast, this workshop provides a full set of technical, theoretical, and practical skills for Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveying. As such, it offers thorough training for field work, processing, and interpretation of intensively modified human landscapes, in an accessible and professional way. Hands-on experience is an essential complement to previous or planned geophysics training for work in earth sciences, geology, geography, urban planning, architecture, surveying, civil engineering, environmental engineering, environmental studies, landscaping, forensics, anthropology, archaeology, cultural resource management (CRM), Classics, and/or history.

          The workshop is conducted in the heart of Transylvania, in the Mureş river valley (Hunedoara County, Romania). This region combines intensive historical human habitation and landscape transformation with relatively static modern occupation, offering complex but highly accessible study sites.  This offers a unique setting in which common environmental challenges to a GPR survey, such as interference from cell phone towers, communication and power lines, road traffic, and modern constructions occur at recognizable and manageable levels.  As a result, this location is ideal for both GPR exploration, and skill acquisition. 

          This workshop will address the basic principles of electromagnetic wave propagation and electromagnetic properties as they apply to GPR and geophysical exploration.  We will focus on the practical applications of GPR in order to achieve the most useful results in different environments with distinct stratigraphic and geological properties, relevant in a variety of disciplines.  The workshop will be progressively staged so that participants gain experience and skills required to formulate appropriate research questions and carry out real life data collection and analysis to answer these questions.  During the first three days, participants will receive several lectures on GPR theory and method, learning to properly collect data and use the field equipment and analytical software.  The last three days will be devoted exclusively to data collection and analysis, designed to acquire the maximum applied field geophysical experience and communication skills to present the results. Working in teams of two or three, participants will maximize both quantity and quality of acquired field and analytical geophysical exploration skills.

          Our case studies sites provide an unparalleled access to a diverse set of features and conditions.  We address urban and proto-urban settlement construction, complex anthropogenic stratigraphic relationships, variation in soil structure and conditions, wide range of materials and their use/reuse, unmapped ancient and modern utilities, potential graves, modern and ancient civil works projects (including the remains of roads, aqueducts, and wells), changes in hydrogeological environment caused by modern human intervention (construction and operation of thermal power plant), and any additional and as-yet undiscovered features.

          Our first target site, Rapolt, presents an intensive Roman habitation of 200-300 years, without later occupation.  As a result, the modifications of the site are exclusively the result of agricultural work with minor looting.  The intensity of the habitation, combined with its very well defined temporal limits and limited later human alterations, has created a site ideal for learning the fundamentals of GPR, basic survey implementation, optimized use of field equipment, and post-processing analytical methods.

          Our second case study will be conducted at Micia.  It is one of the largest and most intricate archaeological urban sites in Transylvania, featuring three centuries of intensive and extensive Roman occupation.  Beginning as complex fortified military camps, it later expanded into a large village and then a full city, complete with amphitheater, baths, temples, manufacturing, shops, plazas, large and small habitation structures, and two cemeteries with funerary monuments.  The Roman site was then taken over by migratory people with variable architectural skill who modified the site according to their needs and perception for over four centuries. It was then forgotten for close to a millennium and a half until, during communist times, a thermal power plant and a couple of roads were built on the site, destroying about 20% of it, and introducing a modern twist to our GPR research area in the form of unmapped buried utilities and buried support/temporary structures.

Period(s) of Occupation: Geophysics (GPR); Roman Imperial (Provincial); Migration Period; Modern

Intensive Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) training workshop, focusing in skill acquisition and hands-on field and laboratory applications, in rich archaeological and modern target environments. The workshop is designed for participants to become very effective and proficient GPR operators and analysts.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 6 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
The project is designed to be an intensive hands on experience, focusing primarily on skill acquisition. As such, previous experience is not required. We will teach participants all the necessary skills in the field and laboratory as they engage with various contexts.

Room and Board Arrangements

We house everyone in double or triple occupancy rooms in the village houses. Every house is equipped with bathrooms. You will be guests of Romanian families and will have a chance to discover the true sense of old fashion Transylvanian hospitality. You will experience some of the nicest aspects of Eastern European country life, indulging in your guest families home made cookies and a variety of  home made traditional  beverages. Generally speaking, you will have all the advantages of a country life with the comfort of an urban environment.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included for the duration of each session. Beaware that Romanian cuisine is generally meat oriented (although we do our best to satisfy vegetarians as well).

$985 for each 6-day intensive training session

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
A. Gonciar
Archaeological Techniques and Research Center
Recommended Bibliography: 

Required Readings (in order)

[1] A. P. Annan, “GPR – Trends, history, and future developments,” in Proceedings of the EAGE 2001 Conference, 2001, no. 905.

[2] L. B. Conyers, Ground Penetrating Radar for Geoarchaeology. Ch. 1,2 Wiley, 2016.

[3] L. B. Conyers, “Ground-penetrating radar mapping using multiple processing and interpretation methods,” Remote Sens., vol. 8, 2016.

[4]  K. Takahashi, J. Igel, H. Preetz, and S. Kuroda, “Basics and Application of Ground- Penetrating Radar as a Tool for Monitoring Irrigation Process,” in Problems, Perspectives, and Challenges of Agricultural Water Management, M. Kumar, Ed. InTech, 2012.

[5] L. Verdonck, D. Simpson, W. Cornelis, A. Plyson, and J. Bourgeois, “Analysing the velocity of ground-penetrating radar waves: A case study from Koekelare (Belgium),” in 1st Workshop on Remote Sensing for Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Management, Rome, 2008, no.399

[6] B. N. Damiata, J. M. Steinberg, D. J. Bolender, G. Zoega, and J. W. Schoenfelder, “Subsurface imaging a Viking-Agee churchyard using GPR with TDR: Direct comparison to the archaeological record from an excavated site in northern Iceland,” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 12, pp.244-256, 2017.

[7] J.A. Pincus, T.S. de Smet, Y. Tepper, and M.J. Adams, “Ground penetrating radar and electromagnetic archaeogeophysical investigations at the Roman legionary camp at Legio, Israel,” Archaeological Prospection, vol.20 pp. 175-188, 2013.

[8] W. Zhao, E. Forte, M. Pipan, and G. Tian, “Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) attribute analysis for archaeological prospection,” J. Appl. Geophys., vol. 97, pp. 107–117, 2013.

[9] Sensors & Software, “Concrete Scanning with GPR Guidebook.” 2015

[10] V. R. N. dos Santos, W. Al-Nuaimy, J. L. Porsani, N. S. T. Hirata, and H. S. Alzubi, “Spectral analysis of ground penetrating radar signals in concrete, metallic and plastic targets,” J. Appl. Geophys., vol. 100, no. January, pp. 32–43, 2014.

[11] G. R. Olhoeft, “Maximizing the information return from ground penetrating radar,” J. Appl. Geophys., vol. 43, pp. 175–187, 2000.