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Experiences with unexploded ordnance discrimination using magnetometry at a live-site in Montana

Journal of Applied Geophysics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jappgeo.2006.05.008
  • Unexploded Ordnance
  • Discrimination
  • Magnetics
  • Total-Quality Management
  • Earth Science
  • Physics


Abstract Advanced discrimination methods and careful optimization of operational procedures are critical for efficient remediation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminated sites. In this paper, we report on our experiences with a 200 acre magnetic survey that was collected and processed under production survey conditions at Chevallier Ranch, Montana. All anomalies with fitted moments above 0.05 Am 2 were excavated. During the survey the magnetic remanence metric was predicted but not used to guide the discrimination. The retrospective analysis presented here reveals that discrimination using remanence would have significantly reduced the total number of anomalies (with good dipolar fits) that needed to be excavated, from 524 to 290 while still recovering all 69 UXO. The false alarm rate (FAR = number of non-UXOs excavated divided / number of UXO found) was reduced from 6.3 to 2.9. At a cut-off of 75% remanence, 77% of anomalies due to shrapnel and metallic debris and 64% of geological anomalies were rejected. Geological anomalies due to variations in magnetite concentration introduced a significant human-element into the interpretation process. Three different interpreters added a total of 305 additional anomalies that were not fit with a dipole model and which were later found to be non-UXO. Between 40 and 50% of anomalies picked by the two relatively inexperienced interpreters who analyzed the data turned out to be geology, as compared to 14% for an experienced interpreter. Critical analysis of results, operator training and feedback from the UXO technicians validating the anomaly are essential components towards improving the quality and consistency of the anomaly interpretations. This is consistent with the tenants of Total Quality Management (TQM). We compare the actual FAR that resulted during the survey when there was little feedback between UXO technician validation results, to a hypothetical result that could have been achieved had there been a constant feedback system in place at the onset of operations. Feedback would have significantly reduced the number of geological anomalies and decreased the FAR from 10.7 to 4.0. The hypothetical results presented here demonstrate the value of using TQM principles to guide the UXO remediation process. They further show that improvements in the efficiency and costs of UXO remediation require both technological advances and operational optimization of the technology when implemented in a production setting. Furthermore, by treating geophysical modeling and UXO validation as separate entities, both with respect to contracting and operational reporting, there is little incentive for the geophysicist to leave an anomaly off the dig-sheet. Only potential negative consequences will result if that anomaly is later found to be a UXO. An incentive based mechanism that rewards the geophysicist for reductions in follow-on costs would have a strong potential to reduce the number of unnecessary excavations, and hence reduce the total cost of the UXO remediation effort.

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