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Technology for humanitarian landmine clearance

By Russell Gasser


This thesis examines the technology used for tools and equipment for humanitarian\ud landmine clearance. The main focus is on the removal of mine and unxeploded ordnance\ud contamination in the poor, heavily mined countries, particularly Afghanistan\ud and Cambodia.\ud Initially, the process of humanitarian demining in these countries was examined and\ud described, and the relevant literature reviewed.\ud Three studies were undertaken with a dual purpose of (a) providing relevant contributions\ud to the science of mine clearance and (b) evaluating some of the methods\ud commonly used in humanitarian demining research.\ud (i) A statistical analysis of the evaluation of mine detection systems in trials was\ud undertaken. This demonstrated that (a) this statistical analysis is straightforward,\ud and (b) feasible sized trials do not yield useful results from analysis of the crude minedetection\ud rate. An enhancement to the evaluation process, "Margin of Detection,"\ud was suggested.\ud (ii) Research into improved "prodders" for detecting mines was undertaken with as\ud much consultation with deminers as possible early in the research cycle. "Sensing\ud prodders" were shown to function technically but not to improve the overall demining\ud process. Measurements showed that many deminers prod in hard soils with\ud suÆcient force to detonate some mines; rotary prodders were developed to reduce\ud the force required for excavation, but success in the laboratory could not be duplicated\ud in eld conditions. From this work a potentially useful tool for deminer\ud training was developed, which might reduce the risks of accidental detonation.\ud (iii) The limits of a high-tech detection technique (neutron irradiation and detection\ud of prompt gamma rays) were examined (a) to advance understanding of this method\ud and (b) to demonstrate the feasibility of early evaluation of technologies before\ud extensive research is started. This neutron technology was shown to oer potential\ud benets to military demining, but to be unlikely to have general application when the\ud higher clearance standards and lower equipment budgets of humanitarian demining\ud were applied.\ud The thesis ends with conclusions and suggestions for some further work.\ud Throughout the thesis, the research is focussed on investigating practical problems\ud which deminers have suggested as important constraints on their work

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