Physical Geography and Sciences


Colin Krzystek



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Colin Krzystek, HON400: All College Honors Colloquium
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Kevin Williams, Earth Sciences and Science Education

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a non-invasive technique for finding out what exists in the subsurface. As a GPR antenna is pulled over the surface, radar waves are sent into the ground, interacting with material by reflecting, refracting, and being absorbed, and then return to the antenna. The control computer displays the returned signals as a two-dimensional “radargram” or cross-section of the subsurface. GPR is typically used to locate pipes and conduits in construction related applications, and it is used to detect subsurface layers, rocks, and structures in geological applications. By collecting data along multiple, parallel transects, a 3-dimensional data block can be constructed to give an even better picture of what objects or structures exist in the subsurface. For this research project, we analyzed GPR data that was collected at the Holy Mother of the Rosary Historic Cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY. At that cemetery, there are several sections without grave markers that are believed to include burials. In order to identify locations for future burials, parallel transects of GPR data were collected that could then be processed into 3D data blocks. As the data were analyzed, we determined that many of the seemingly empty areas were actually filled with unmarked graves. Further analysis showed several locations that might not contain a burial, although we cannot say for sure only based on the GPR data. Ultimately, it is up to the cemetery to decide whether they want to place new burials in locations that appear empty.

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What's Below the Surface: A Deeper Look Using Ground Penetrating Radar
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