SERDP 2014 Project-of-the-Year Award for Munitions Response

(Initially Released December 8, 2014) In an important advance in the field of munitions response, Dr. Laurens Beran and his team at Black Tusk Geophysics have developed decision support and planning tools that will facilitate the adoption of new, cost-effective technologies. SERDP and ESTCP have developed advanced sensors and processing techniques that allow an analyst to classify buried metal objects as hazardous munitions or harmless scrap. Since removing buried items other than munitions is the largest single cost in most munitions response actions, this classification technology has the potential to save billions of dollars over the life of the munitions response program. In order for site managers and industry performers to adopt this technology, tools are required to help all concerned understand:

  • how to best deploy available technologies for a particular site, and
  • how to ensure with high confidence that all targets of interest have been identified following remediation efforts.

Dr. Beran has developed a tool to predict the response of the advanced sensors to a given munition as a function of depth. Coupled with the measured background noise at a site, this will allow site teams to quantitatively predict the depths to which munitions expected at the site can be detected and reliably classified. The tools developed by this team also allow geophysical analysts to select appropriate classification strategies based on the measured data and the site noise. On easy sites where the clutter does not look anything like the munitions, classification decisions can be more aggressive, maximizing the potential savings. Conversely, on difficult sites a conservative threshold can be used to ensure that no munitions are missed.

Using the tools developed by Dr. Beran and his team, project managers and regulators will no longer have to resort to vague objectives such as “clearance to depth.” They will be able to make risk management decisions based on defensible, quantitative information. 

For this significant work, Dr. Beran and his project team received the 2014 SERDP Project-of-the-Year Award for Munitions Response. Project Overview

Project Team 

  • Dr. Laurens Beran, Black Tusk Geophysics
  • Dr. Barry Zelt, Black Tusk Geophysics
  • Mr. David Lutes, Black Tusk Geophysics
  • Dr. Stephen Billings, Black Tusk Geophysics