ArchaeologyData CollectionData Interpretation

When a Client Wants GPR to do What it Can’t (Ground Penetrating Radar)

By August 4, 2017 6 Comments

I was recently approached by a potential client that needed some ground penetrating radar work to help them identify some unmarked graves in a church cemetery. They had excavated out a grave shaft for an interment and saw another body in the hole. Naturally they don’t want this happening again.

After discussing the site and quoting them a price, the potential clients wanted me to change the terms in my contract because they thought that I wasn’t taking on enough liability for the gpr results. They indicated that they wanted some recourse if I completed the project but they still hit another unmarked grave in the future. Needless to say, I wouldn’t concede this point.

It is impossible to know if you have identified all potential targets, and with older burials especially, its quite possible that the grave has homogenized with the surrounding soil making it difficult to detect any contrast. GPR needs Contrast in some physical properties to reflect some energy back.

While I am a SUPERHERO, none of my powers let me alter the physics of the universe. And because of that fact, I had to turn down the project. I highly recommend you turn down projects when potential customers are unwilling to accept the limitations of GPR technology. If they want more from the technology than it can provide, there is no pathway to success.

Good luck, and stick to your guns! You are a professional. Make sure you act like one.

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Brian Kokot says:

    Nice piece Dan. We are in the business, so we share your concerns. Getting clients to understand the limitations is certainly one of our greatest struggles. Question – did you and your client get to the point where they expressed what the recourse would be? Reason I ask is because if the risk is low, wouldn’t it at least be worth discussing?

    • dpbigman says:

      Thanks so much Brian. The were inching towards “suing me” if they encountered another grave. So the risk was high. The trade-off wasn’t worth. The most frustrating part was I was giving this potential customer a massive discount for the project because they were a referral and I knew they didn’t have funds. But, they had recently hit a grave and clearly needed the work. I was in a sense doing it at cost which I almost NEVER do. So when you try to hook someone up and they want to write in that you are liable and they can sue you for something that you just don’t have control over, its got to be one to turn down. I appreciate the comment and question!

  • Yep, it’s about educating your client. And if they don’t want to listen…. No deal. You can only do your best, use good equipment in the best way you can.
    BTW, if you do find a way to change the laws of physics, please let me know 😉
    Thanks again for the vid. Ferry

  • Kasey Burch says:

    Nice write up! I work for a SUE company and we do provide GPR services but we always turn down a client under those circumstances as well. We’ve done a few unmarked grave sites but at no liability to us, so the client understood and had knowledge of how the GPR at least worked instead of some that think it can find everything. But yes always know your limitations and never accept a job if you feel uncomfortable with the terms, conditions, agreements, etc. with what the client is wanting for a deliverably.

    • dpbigman says:

      Thanks so much for the comment Kasey! I’m with you. I have done a ton of these types of projects and under all other circumstances…the clients have understood the limits as I described them. But, when they don’t its best to say “where’s the next project”.