Geophysical surveys have been traditionally used in the energy sector as exploration tools in hydrocarbon and mining projects. However, these applications are not the only ones where geophysics has proven its value.
Hydroelectric power plants, water transport canals, wind farms, photovoltaic installations or nuclear power plants, are a vital means of producing energy in our societies. These facilities need to be planned, designed, constructed and maintained regularly.
In many cases, a large part of the project cost (and sometimes even the viability) is attributed to subsurface conditions, where unsatisfactory conditions could increase either the geotechnical stabilization measures needed or the project design cost itself. A way to collect information of the subsurface and existing installations which can lead to measures reducing the project cost and damage is to use geophysical methods during the planning, construction and maintenance phases.
Numerous construction and rehabilitation projects are daily taking place around the world. Geophysical methods can benefit these projects greatly during all phases. During the planning and designs phase seismic surveys in combination with electrical resistivity are often used for detecting soil water content, analyze the bedrock properties, study the presence of voids or estimate the cost of excavation works. During the construction phase seismic methods (either from the surface or from boreholes) and GPR are used to analyze rock fracturing or the unexpected appearance of karstifications onsite. During the maintenance phase GPR is the most commonly used method to analyze problems in concrete structures or foundations.