GPR Locates Voids Under Airport Runway

A potential problem with voids under a runway was confirmed after a Boeing 737 dropped through the concrete taxiway at the Mid Delta Regional Airport in Mississippi. It was reported the airplane sustained approximately $1.5 million in damages (OUCH!).

subsurface void

Ground penetrating radar was used to map any potential voids near the storm drain which crosses under a runway and a taxiway. These subject areas were chosen because geologists speculated the previous spring’s flooding of the nearby Mississippi River followed by current drought conditions may have caused the voids.

A geophysical firm based in Clinton, MS analyzed the GPR data and mapped the location of the void at a 40-45 cm depth slice and the pipe at a 95-100 cm depth slice beneath the void as shown in the images below.

subsurface void map

It is anticipated additional GPR surveys at the airport will be conducted in other areas of the airport to determine what caused the voids and if there may be any additional voids present.

Subsurface voids under roadways can cause significant damage to property and possible injury or death to those traveling on those surfaces when they collapse. Fortunately this time the collapsed runway only resulted in a very expensive repair to the aircraft.

(Information and pictures originally published by Sensors & Software in Subsurface Views newsletter.)

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