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Proceedings Paper

Underwater olfaction for real-time detection of submerged unexploded ordnance
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Paper Abstract

The presence of Underwater Unexploded Ordnance (UUXO) represents a considerable threat in the marine environment. Elevated concentrations of dissolved explosive compounds, such as TNT and RDX, may be produced in the vicinity of degraded UUXO shell casings and are known to have significant toxicant effects on local marine organisms. During World War II and in subsequent years, the US military inadvertently or, in some cases intentionally, deposited many thousands of tons of UUXO in US coastal waters. Much of this material is difficult to locate by magnetometry or sonar imaging techniques, and can be extremely challenging to identify by visual means after lying on the bottom of the ocean for several decades. The present work is focused on advances in underwater olfaction, wherein trace amounts of dissolved explosive compounds may be detected and discriminated from other chemical species found in the marine environment, for the purpose of establishing safe cordons and/or neutralization of the explosives. ICx Nomadics has developed the first known real-time sensor system that is capable of detecting chemical signatures emanating from underwater explosives. The SeaPup sensor, which is based on the fluorescence-quenching transduction mechanism of an amplifying fluorescent polymer (AFP), is capable of real-time detection of the trace chemical signatures emanating from submerged explosive compounds. The SeaPup system has been successfully tested on various marine platforms, including a crawler robot, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). In one study, the SeaPup was shown to effectively map liquid phase "explosive scent plumes" emanating from an underwater source of TNT. The presented paper will provide an overview of the history, current status, and future development of explosive analyte detection in the underwater environment.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 May 2007
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 6540, Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security III, 65400V (4 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.719742
Show Author Affiliations
Ross J. Harper, ICx Nomadics (United States)
Matthew L. Dock, ICx Nomadics (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6540:
Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security III
Theodore T. Saito; Daniel Lehrfeld; Michael J. DeWeert, Editor(s)

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