Application of ground penetrating radar in detecting the hazards and risks of termites and ants in soil levees.
A ground penetrating radar (GPR) technique was used to detect Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) and red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) hazards and risks (targets) in a soil levee at the London Avenue Canal in New Orleans, LA. To make this assessment, GPR signal scans were examined for features produced by termite or ant activities and potential sources of food and shelter such as nests, tree roots, and voids (tunnels). The total scanned length of the soil levee was 4,125 m. The average velocity and effective depth of the radar penetration was 0.080 m/ns and 0.61 m, respectively. Four hundred twenty-seven targets were identified. Tree roots (38), voids (31), fire ant nests (209), and metal objects (149) were detected, but no Formosan termite carton nests were identified. The lack of identified termite nests may be related to drowning events at the time to the flood. Based on the target density (TD), the two new floodwall and levee sections that were rebuilt or reinforced after they were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were determined to be at low potential risk from termites and ants. A merging target density (MTD) method indicated a high potential risk near one of the breached sections still remains. Foraging and nesting activity of Formosan subterranean termites and red imported fire ants may be a contributory factor to the levee failure at the London Avenue Canal.