Wither Water

Wither Water

Why is it that water affects some underground  locating tools differently than others?

Water affects these because of its chemical structure.  Water consists of 2 hydrogen atoms stuck to the much larger single oxygen atom (thus H2O).  The hydrogens hang out on the same side of the oxygen and this creates an electrical effect known as a “dipole moment” (see the picture). This is intrinsic to the water molecule and it has some interesting effects which you can see for yourself.  If you take a glass rod and rub it with a piece of silk and bring it close to a small stream of water, you’ll see the water bend because of this polar feature.

What does this have to do with underground locating?

Most non-invasive locating techniques rely on some form of electricity or magnetism to find buried objects. These electrical effects used to find stuff “bend the water” and their signals attenuate because of the polar nature of water.  This means that water-saturated soils prevent most locating devices from working very well.

The polar nature of water does not affect acoustic locating approaches such as Cartacoustics’ ASTlive! point locating device.  In fact, soil saturation can help get sound into the ground more effectively and can help enhance the acoustic signals used to find buried structures. This enables ASTlive! to work in all kinds of soil conditions, regardless of water content. So, while water affects some underground locating tools, it does not affect Cartacoustics’ ASTlive!  Now you know!

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