Seeing Under Ground with Sound Waves

In Afghanistan and Iraq, enemy command centers, weapons and terror leaders such as Usama bin Laden are often well concealed in underground caves or tunnels.
Fox News reported on a breakthrough.

New technology being developed at Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, Calif., will soon give U.S. forces a way to “see” what’s underground. It’s 3D technology that’s already used by American oil companies looking for oil deposits.

With funding from Congress, the U.S. military is now tweaking the application.

In a wartime scenario, soldiers at ground-level would place sensors around an area of interest, then, by firing a blank into the earth, create a sound wave that would bounce back.

That sound wave would contain geophysical information that is color-coded and easy to decipher. A few keystrokes later, and the data translates into a 3D map that indicates pockets of air or metal, and possibly, enemy targets.

“When you’re looking for underground bunkers, underground structures, buried ammunition stockpiles, anything that’s below the surface that you can’t visibly see, this gives the military the opportunity to get in there and try to find the stuff without having to pull away shovels and dig up every section of the ground,” said Lt. Col. Bill Cowan.

Engineers at Silicon Graphics say there could be homeland security applications for their product as well, such as using the technology to help detect border tunnels. The military hopes to have it up and running by next summer, giving soldiers a new weapon in the War on Terror.