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Presentation Slides

This SERDP and ESTCP webinar focuses on DoD-funded research efforts to identify reliable techniques for detailed survey of unexploded ordnance (UXO) at underwater remediation sites. Specifically, the investigator will discuss his work to use structural acoustic (SA) sonar technology to more easily and accurately detect buried UXO.


“Demonstration of AUV-Based Structural Acoustic Look-Down and Side-Look Sonars for Underwater Buried UXO Detection and Classification” by Dr. Brian Houston (ESTCP Project MR-201714)

Many military installations have ordnance ranges and training areas with adjacent waters in which unexploded ordnance (UXO) exists due to wartime activities, dumping and accidents in U.S. coastal waters and abroad. As the adjacent lands have become further developed, the potential public hazard from encounters with UXO has continued to rise, necessitating remediation programs that employ technologies to survey such areas and map the locations of proud and buried UXO. Electric and magnetic detectors do not penetrate the sediment with sufficient signal-to-noise ratio to achieve high probability of detection and low false alarm rates for most buried UXO. Commercially available imaging sonars that operate at very high frequencies (~mega-Hertz) can generate modest resolution images of proud targets, but the high sediment absorption at their operating frequencies precludes their use against buried UXO. This presentation will discuss a new class of structural acoustic (SA) sonars, which operate at much lower frequencies (several to tens of kHz), experience only a few dB of absorption, and thus are able to detect the buried objects. Further, in the SA domain, the vibrational dynamics of the entire UXO generate a rich set of features that can be used for target classification using artificial intelligence/machine learning techniques.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Brian Houston is the Superintendent of the Acoustics Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. In this capacity, he leads a 100-person research organization that conducts basic and applied research in acoustics for undersea applications. He has served as principal investigator for efforts funded by SERDP/ESTCP, the operational U.S. Navy, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). These efforts have included research involving the exploitation of acoustic signature physics, particularly in connection with in-water ordnance, submarines, unmanned underwater vehicles and sea mines. Dr. Houston is a Fellow of the Acoustic Society of America (ASA) and a member of the Institute for Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE). He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal publications. His awards include the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Undersea Warfare Division Bronze Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Award, the Delores Etter Navy Top Scientist Award and the Arthur E. Bisson Prize for Naval Technology Achievement Award. Dr. Houston received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in physics from the American University in Washington, DC.