Innovative structural acoustic sonar system can help in identifying and characterizing underwater UXO. 

A significant number of active and former DoD installations have adjacent coastal and inland waters containing military munitions, some partially or completed buried in sediment and some lying on the sediment floor.There is little historical information about the locations or quantities of munitions in the underwater environment, so technologies are needed to efficiently assess potentially contaminated areas. Existing underwater search techniques are limited in part because they are unable to see beneath the sediment floor.

Dr. Houston and his project team have developed an effective technique for wide-area detection and identification of underwater munitions using an innovative structural acoustic sonar system. Instead of using images, structural acoustics uses the “ringing” that objects make when hit by sound waves. By interpreting the sound patterns and tone, researchers are able to discern information about the size and nature of an object. “This technology holds tremendous potential to provide DoD with a new capability to identify and characterize underwater munitions sites at high coverage rates,” said Dr. Anne Andrews, SERDP and ESTCP Deputy Director.

For this work, Dr. Houston received a Project-of-the-Year award at the annual Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium & Workshop held December 1-3, 2009, in Washington, D.C.  

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