The importance of soil effects on the performance of both existing and prototype sensors, as well as on mine dogs, is receiving increased research attention.

In many ways the problem of detecting buried mines is dominated by the characteristics of the soil in which the mines are buried - this has traditionally been regarded more as an unwanted background signal than as the medium in which the mine is an anomaly.

Detailed work has been done on the effect of soil moisture on parameters of interest to GPR - (see also the section on GPR). Surprisingly little work appears to have been published on many other areas of interest such as the standardised measurement under field conditions of the magnetic and conductive properties of the soil, even though these are of considerable relevance to metal detection. Given the dominance of the soil signals in many sensing systems for buried mine detection, this lack of even fundamental quantification of some soil parameters to allow the production of standardised conditions for testing is somewhat surprising. Current studies include investigation of:

  • Assessing the performance limits of currently used detection means (metal detectors, mine dogs).

  • Predicting a detector’s performance measuring the soil properties in situ, and not only for electromagnetic properties (e.g. to assess the performance of metal detectors or GPR), but also for example for neutron or vapour sensors.

  • Looking into the possibility of generating soil maps for mine affected countries, which could allow to assess a priori on which fraction of contaminated land a given sensor is likely not to work satisfactorily.

Given the investment made in mine detection equipment each year, principally metal detectors, it seems surprising that there is no widely available, standard, cheap, portable field instrument to measure soil conditions in a particular region to be cleared and hence assist in predicting which metal detection system will give best results, or whether the region is suitable for GPR or other techniques. Soil measurements and soil sampling have apparently not yet found a place in the detailed planning of mine clearance despite the potential advantages.

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Record updated on : 05 August 2011
Record id : 33