In railways Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) studies, the evaluation of materials dielectric properties is critical as they are sensitive to water content, to petrographic type of aggregates and to fouling condition of the ballast. Under the load traffic, maintenance actions and climatic effects, ballast condition change due to aggregate breakdown and to subgrade soils pumping, mainly on existing lines with no sub ballast layer. The main purpose of this study was to validate, under controlled conditions, the dielectric values of materials used in Portuguese railways, in order to improve the GPR interpretation using commercial software and consequently the management maintenance planning. Different materials were tested and a broad range of in situ
conditions were simulated in laboratory, in physical models. GPR tests were performed with five antennas with frequencies between 400 and 1800 MHz. The variation of the dielectric properties was measured, and the range of values that can be obtained for different material condition was defined. Additionally, in situ
GPR measurements and test pits were performed for validation of the dielectric constant of clean ballast. The results obtained are analyzed and the main conclusions are presented herein.
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