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Environmental studies program receives $20K grant to purchase ground penetrating radar equipment

ISSUED: 15 November 2023
MEDIA CONTACT: Cecelia Mason

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University environmental studies students will soon be able to get hands-on experience using ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment. Dr. Zachary Musselman, associate professor of geology, received a $20,000 grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Science, Technology, and Research Division to purchase a Radiodetection LMX200 GPR system.

“Ground Penetrating Radar methods are used in a wide variety of environmental settings to monitor contaminants and water in the subsurface, locate underground utilities, explore for geohazards, and map archeological, soil, and geological strata,” Musselman said. “The minimally invasive nature of GPR creates a significant advantage over other traditional methods of subsurface exploration and characterization where cross soil- or bedrock-contamination may occur when other units are used that penetrate the ground.”

Photo of a GPR unitThe LMX200 GPR resembles a lawnmower with a high-resolution touchscreen processor that looks like a tablet attached to the handle. Data from the processor can be exported for further analysis.

Musselman said students will be able to use the GPR unit on campus and at the Agricultural Innovation Center at Tabler Farm. They’ll be able to monitor things like surface-level groundwater movement, determine soil thickness, map the location of underground utilities, and use the data they collect in class projects, lab activities, and individual research.

“Using GPR equipment will give students hands-on experience with technology that is critical to their field of study,” Musselman said. “GPR systems are used in a variety of environmental and engineering applications, and students with experience using this type of equipment will gain an advantage when seeking employment.”

Musselman sees uses for the GPR system beyond the environmental studies program.

“My hope is this equipment will generate interest from others,” Musselman said. “It’s exciting to think of potential projects, including working with those with interests in local history, and the potential of this equipment to find unmarked graves and historical structures.”

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