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Enhancing Environmental Restoration Efforts

There are approximately 11 million acres of land across nearly 2,000 ranges in the U.S. that contain the potential hazard of unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination. Traditional methods for locating UXO require significant time and expense and are not effective in distinguishing between UXO and non-UXO materials. ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) UXO Discrimination Program has developed and tested new electromagnetic induction sensors and cutting edge signal processing algorithms that significantly increase the accuracy of detection while lowering costs.


Separating Targets from Clutter

The use of magnetometers, gradiometers, or metal detectors to manually identify anomalies—often called the “mag and flag” method—does not effectively distinguish UXO targets from non-UXO anomalies such as manmade clutter or natural metals. The majority of costs associated with this method involve the removal of non-UXO material, while a much smaller percentage goes toward actual UXO removal.

The CRREL lab has developed enhanced UXO detection and discrimination systems to provide a much higher probability of UXO detection and discrimination between UXO and clutter while reducing UXO remediation costs by more than 75 percent. By using innovative models such as the Normalized Surface Magnetic Source (NSMS) method and the Orthonormalized Volume Magnetic Source (ONVMS) method, researchers greatly reduced the range of unneeded holes dug: from 20 to 100 down to just one or two for every UXO extracted.


Multiple Systems Expand Usability

The algorithms developed by researchers can be applied to vehicle-towed, man-portable, and handheld UXO target detection and discrimination systems to suit an increased range of capabilities in a variety of environments. These systems have a 95-98 percent success rate of detection, and can discriminate and reject non-UXO target at a 75-90 percent rate. This rate of success also helps ensure the safety of ordnance clearing teams, and the increased efficiency contributes to growing acceptance of range remediation by regulators and the public sector.



In blind tests at the former Camp Beale, near Sacramento Calif., the CRREL team achieved the highest score among several research groups for correct classification of Camp Beale data. In addition, only the CRREL team correctly found and classified an array of small (3-5 cm) fuses that was part of the demonstration project.



New ultra-wideband instruments used in UXO discrimination:

  • GEM-3D+: hand held, frequency domain, registering all three vector components of the signal.
  • MPV-1 and MPV-2:  First and second generation time domain man-portable sensors with multiple vector receivers.
  • Emerging: Pedemis time domain sensor, portable in non-trafficable terrain, with extended coverage by transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) arrays. The vector Rx array can be moved about separately from and around the Tx array, enabling flexible deployment and operational options not available on other sensors.

ERDC Points of Contact
Questions about UXO discrimination?
Contact: Ben Barrowes
Email: Benjamin.E.Barrowes@usace.army.mil
Phone: 603-646-4822

Unexploded Ordnance UXO UXO Discrimination