High-powered sensor results in better geophysical data at Camp Breckinridge munitions response project

Published Dec. 10, 2020

In determining the impact of the past use of this Formerly Used Defense Site as an artillery range, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Camp Breckinridge Environmental Restoration team has turned to advanced technology. 

The UltraTEM-IV is the next-generation in geophysical classification technology that scans the ground from just feet away, while being towed over the surface. 

According to USACE officials, this system covers a lot of ground and turns up greater results.

“It is a towed system, so production rates are much greater than other instruments,” said Clayton Hayes, Louisville District project manager. “Additionally, it has the capability to perform ‘one pass classification,’ which allows us to classify subsurface objects as potential UXO (unexploded ordnance) or just clutter as they are detected. This greatly increases the quality and speed of data collection.”

According to Hayes, this new technology is just the latest of several industry-standard sensors used at the Camp Breckinridge Military Munitions Response Program Project 06. 

“The UltraTEM is considered the most technologically advanced system in performing this particular type of geophysical survey work,” Hayes said. 

This technology was employed after other metal mapping machines covered the same ground.

“There are many types of equipment used in geophysical surveys, each with its own purpose and specialties,” Hayes said. “They each have their limitations. This system is more powerful, and it’s faster.”

With the UltraTEM, equipment availability is limited and cannot be easily used in densely vegetated areas or on rough or steep terrain, according to Nick Stolte, project engineer/contracting officer’s representative. “Camp Breckinridge is primarily agricultural fields, which is near perfect for the UltraTEM,” Stolte added.

The UltraTEM is meant to supplement the characterization data collected during the initial Remedial Investigation fieldwork conducted last year. The UltraTEM will more accurately predict anomaly density in the High Use Areas.

According to Stolte, earlier data identified areas where munitions were located on the surface and in the subsurface. Numerous fragments created a saturated response area resulting in individual anomalies not being distinguished due to the extremely high density. 

The UltraTEM should provide the resolution needed to more accurately predict the anomalies, Stolte said. 

“It is important to understand anomaly density, so we can develop remedial alternatives that will be successful in addressing risk and estimating costs,” Stolte said. “Anomaly density is the primary cost-driver for remedial actions. More accurate prediction of the density is a critical component for cost estimating, planning, programming and budgeting for the future remedial action.” 

Located in western Kentucky, 30 miles southwest of Evansville, Indiana, Camp Breckinridge was once used for infantry housing, combat training and medical care.

In the past, it served as a prisoner of war camp and for troop training related to a peacetime draft and the Korean War, followed by annual field training support for summer National Guard troops, Reserve Soldiers and Army Units Special Field Training.