CSIRO creates underwater bomb-sensor
Reducing the UXB danger
America’s Sky Research and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) have teamed up with CSIRO scientists to create a more sensitive detector for unexploded bombs in the ocean.
The problem of unexploded ordinance underwater is bigger than you might realise, with the SERDP estimating that in the US, more than ten million acres (about four million hectares) of sea floor are contaminated.Then there's the fact that as explosives corrode they become more unstable and dangerous, which makes it rather nice to find them before they literally explode.
The Sky Research/CSIRO project uses technology from the world of mineral surveys to look for the magnetic signature of UXO (unexploded ordnance) underwater. Called a “high temperature superconducting tensor gradiometer”, the device provides information on the location and magnetic characteristics of a target.
At the heart of the kit is a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). CSIRO, working with Sky Research, developed a hexagonal pyramid configuration of SQUIDs. On each face of the pyramid, one SQUID acts as a gradiometer and another as a magnetometer.
The science agency says the device has passed static tests on land, and will shortly be tested at sea.
The design is described here. ®
Now they're worried?
Nations didn't seem to worry about underwater XO when they dumped MILLIONS of tonnes of bombs and shells left over from various wars, including hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons. How they thought indiscriminately dumping weapons of mass destruction (which they were so afraid of that even when nations were faced with obliteration they didn't use them) was a smart move, is beyond me?
Anyone who has ever lived in a fishing community can tell you this research is very welcome. I remember the first time I saw an unexploded WWII mine... I was a teenager working at the local fish transport company, there I was shoveling ice and a pack of utter idiots off one of the trawlers drive up in a ute with this big ass spikey thing in the back of it... they'd dredged it up in their nets and decided to bring into into the centre of town...
Yeah the next 8 hours waiting while a bomb disposal unit got there and then defused the bloody thing were -fun-... the police moved people out of their homes, evacuated buildings, basically a fun weekend! I spoke to one of the bomb techs after it was all said and done and he said that if it had gone up, it would have taken out a lot of the nearby area... bloody big bomb, but they didn't even blink, apparently they get a lot of practice on the them.
Generally someone would dredge one up every now and then, though most of the fishermen are smart enough not to bring it into the middle of town!