Finite-difference time-domain simulation of GPR data

How Wei Chen, Tai Min Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Simulation of digital ground penetrating radar (GPR) wave propagation in two-dimensional (2-D) media is developed, tested, implemented, and applied using a time-domain staggered-grid finite-difference (FD) numerical method. Three types of numerical algorithms for constructing synthetic common-shot, constant-offset radar profiles based on an actual transmitter-to-receiver configuration and based on the exploding reflector concept are demonstrated to mimic different types of radar survey geometries. Frequency-dependent attenuation is also incorporated to account for amplitude decay and time shift in the recorded responses. The algorithms are based on an explicit FD solution to Maxwell's curl equations. In addition, the first-order TE mode responses of wave propagation phenomena are considered due to the operating frequency of current GPR instruments. The staggered-grid technique is used to sample the fields and approximate the spatial derivatives with fourth-order FDs. The temporal derivatives are approximated by an explicit second-order difference time-marching scheme. By combining paraxial approximation of the one-way wave equation (A2) and the damping mechanisms (sponge filter), we propose a new composite absorbing boundary conditions (ABC) algorithm that effectively absorb both incoming and outgoing waves. To overcome the angle- and frequency-dependent characteristic of the absorbing behaviors, each ABC has two types of absorption mechanism. The first ABC uses a modified Clayton and Enquist's A2 condition. Moreover, a fixed and a floating A2 ABC that operates at one grid point is proposed. The second ABC uses a damping mechanism. By superimposing artificial damping and by alternating the physical attenuation properties and impedance contrast of the media within the absorbing region, those waves impinging on the boundary can be effectively attenuated and can prevent waves from reflecting back into the grid. The frequency-dependent characteristic of the damping mechanism can be used to adjust the width of the absorbing zone around the computational domain. By applying any combination of absorbing mechanism, non-physical reflections from the computation domain boundary can be effectively minimized. The algorithm enables us to use very thin absorbing boundaries. The model can be parameterized through velocity, relative electrical permittivity (dielectric constants), electrical conductivity, magnetic permeability, loss tangent, Q values, and attenuation. According to this scheme, widely varying electrical properties of near-surface earth materials can be modeled. The capability of simulating common-source, constant-offset and zero-offset gathers is also demonstrated through various synthetic examples. The synthetic cases for typical GPR applications include buried objects such as pipes of different materials, AVO analysis for ground water exploration, archaeological site investigation, and stratigraphy studies. The algorithms are also applied to iterative modeling of GPR data acquired over a gymnasium construction site on the NCCU campus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Finite-difference
  • Ground Penetrating Radar, GPR
  • Radargrams
  • Simulation
  • Staggered-grid


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