This project's immediate objectives are (1) to reduce the dimensionality of the problem by quantifying the role of munitions characteristics (e.g., taper, fins, and rolling moments) on the final fate of munitions, and (2) to complete observations of the role of water wave characteristics on munitions mobility and burial in sand-dominated underwater environments. The long-term goal is to develop best practices to validate the capability to predict munitions mobility and burial in underwater environments in demonstrations. Best practices for demonstrations of sensor performance for the detection and classification of munitions on land may be used to guide future demonstrations in underwater environments; however, no such prior examples exist for demonstration of predicting munitions mobility and burial.

Technical Approach

A field experiment will be designed and executed with the long-term goal of developing and documenting best practices for performing demonstrations to validate our understanding and capability to predict munitions mobility and burial in underwater environments. Efforts will be focused on reducing the dimensionality of the matrix of parameters with specific attention on munitions characteristics. The hypothesis is that for any given caliber, the bulk density of munitions is the dominate characteristic necessary to predict the final fate of  munitions in sanddominated underwater environments. A suite of surrogate munitions having maximum fidelity to their real counterparts (e.g., taper, fins, and rolling moments) will be deployed along with simple cylindrical surrogates that have the same caliber and bulk density range but none of the specific characteristics. Mobility and burial of both realistic and simple surrogate munitions will be quantified side-by-side. Additionally, an array of instrumentation will be deployed to characterize the hydrodynamics (e.g., waves and currents) and environmental conditions (e.g., sedimentology and bathymetry).


The field observations will provide a baseline data set for verification and validation of models under development to predict munitions mobility and burial such as the Underwater Munitions Expert System (MR-2228, MR-2645, and MR19-1126) and the Probabilistic Environmental Modeling System (MR-2733). The expected payoff of the research and development under this effort includes preliminary answers to the questions below.

  • What is the minimum dimensionality of parameters required to predict mobility and burial?
  • Are high spatially and temporally resolved observations (intra-storm event) necessary to forecast the fate of munitions during storm events?
  • When is it practical to manage munitions in place versus performing remediation?
  • Can a simple classification system (e.g., similar to Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale) be developed to forecast the probability of mobility and burial for individual storm events?