a munition encased in concretion build-up from years underwater next to clean munition
(Left) A munition experiencing the effects of concretion before cleaning. (Right) The same munition after cleaning

SERDP LOGO DOD-EPA-DOEFunded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), this project seeks to observe and characterize the visual and structural changes that have occurred to munitions as a result of aging in an underwater environment. Little formal knowledge exists on the visual and structural changes to munitions as a result of aging in an underwater environment as well as details on what factors lead to those effects. By analyzing research and news reports of recovered ordnance and their component materials, as well as integrating those observations with previous age-related findings involving landmines, the research team set out to establish a framework of subsequent implications for the Department of Defense’s Munitions Response efforts. The hypothesis for this project is that many of the degradation effects seen with munitions on land will be translatable to underwater munitions, while some are unique to underwater contexts.

fenix-insight logoThe project’s primary objective is to understand the impacts of the underwater environment on munitions as a means to identify the residual risk these munitions pose, so people undertaking detection and clearance efforts can reliably assess operational risk and make informed decisions. The work also has implications for prioritizing clearance tasks and assessing effectiveness of particular detection systems in specific conditions, all of which, in turn, can affect cost-effectiveness of underwater remediation operations. The effort is a collaboration between the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR), Fenix Insight Ltd, and James Madison University (JMU). The project team consists of:

  • Suzanne Fiederlein, PhD (Principal Investigator) / Nicole Neitzey (Co-Principal Investigator), JMU CISR
  • Colin King (Lead Co-Performer), Fenix Insight
  • Phil Halford (Field Operator), Fenix Insight
  • JMU Faculty Researcher Advisory Board (with area(s) of expertise relevant to the project):
    • Harold Butner, PhD (Physics)
    • Chiara Elmi, PhD (Geology)
    • Ronald Raab, PhD (Biology/WMDs)
    • Dhanuska Wijesinghe, PhD (Environmental Science)

We anticipate our report will be published in the first half of 2024, and it will be uploaded to the Scholarly Commons at that time. In the meantime, please view previous studies on the aging of land-based munitions:

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