Ground penetrating radar for monitoring tree roots

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Mine Dogan and Andrew Parsekian, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
The critical zone is a complex part of the shallow subsurface that hosts the majority of subsurface reactive processes, which are affected by heterogeneous properties. Trees are an important component of the critical zone due to their significant effects on carbon, water, and oxygen cycles. They also constitute a significant portion of the biomass that relies on water and minerals from the soils. However it is a challenging task to monitor their interaction with the critical zone without damaging the trees. Geophysical methods are highly effective tools to monitor near surface processes that have the potential to provide in-situ images of the root structure. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is an efficient method to map the root structure, monitor the soil moisture distributions around root systems as they respond to the temporal drivers. This study introduces a novel and fast measurement technique to collect and process GPR data. Images of three-dimensional root structure and the soil moisture distribution in the surrounding volume provide insights into the fundamentals of plant-soil-water interactions.