A major problem with cemeteries is that they are generally not regulated by any central agency or governing body. In most cases municipal laws only apply if the cemetery is located on government land. Rules and regulations are for the most part defined by the organization that is responsible for the cemetery. When these organizations, such as churches, cease to exist, cemeteries often fall into disrepair leaving the land vulnerable to developers and vandalism. This lack of central authority leads to poorly kept records. In many cases there is no official record of known burial sites which can lead to the land being sold without the buyer knowing that the land contains burial sites. Additionally, as land in urban areas becomes more valuable, cemeteries are increasingly being relocated without notifying the descendants or interested parties. If laws do exist they are often overlooked or not enforced by the appropriate authorities.
Vandalism and inaccurate, or no, records lead to the locations of many burial sites to become lost. GPR provides an ideal method to deal with these subsurface locational problems. To survey cemeteries, GPR is a non-invasive and non-destructive method that allows sensitive locations to not be disturbed. Additionally, on site work is time and cost effective. Depending on the size of the area in question, surveys can often be completes within a day, or even hours.
Within cemeteries GPR can precisely locate graves and the depth of burial. If there is nothing left of the grave (i.e. decomposition), GPR data can still be used to determine whether there has been a disturbance of the soil, such as a grave having been formerly dug.