Large concentrations of magnetite in sedimentary deposits and soils with igneous parent material have been reported to affect geophysical sensor performance. We have undertaken the first systematic experimental effort to understand the effects of magnetite for ground-penetrating radar (GPR) characterization of the shallow subsurface. Laboratory experiments were conducted to study how homogeneous magnetite-sand mixtures and magnetite concentrated in layers affect the propagation behavior (velocity, attenuation) of high-frequency GPR waves and the reflection characteristics of a buried target. Important observations were that magnetite had a strong effect on signal velocity and reflection, at magnitudes comparable to what has been observed in small-scale laboratory experiments that measured electromagnetic properties of magnetite-silica mixtures. Magnetite also altered signal attenuation and affected the reflection characteristics of buried targets. Our results indicated important implications for several fields, including land mine detection, Martian exploration, engineering, and moisture mapping using satellite remote sensing and radiometers.

You do not currently have access to this article.