UH research targeting WWII ammunition presented at international conference

ARL To EUH Director Margo Edwards participates in an international panel.

A university of Hawaii project to use high resolution photographic and acoustic data to detect and assess world war II ammunition placed in the ocean south of Oahu was presented to an international panel on maritime safety. Applied research laboratory at EUH (ARL To EUH) Director Margo Edwards discussed ARL To EUHresearch at the European Conservatives and Reformists conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on November 17.

Edwards was invited to participate in the discussion, alongside experts from Poland, Belgium, Canada, Finland and Germany, as EUHthe work of is similar to the task of the European Union to investigate and remedy the world war II ammunition in the Baltic Sea.

“For 15 years, I have been proud to collaborate with researchers working in the Baltic Sea. This collaboration has improved what we do in Hawaii, and I hope we were able to help the efforts in the Baltic in return, ”said Edwards. “This international partnership is something that I consider particularly important.

Visit the European Conservatives and Reformists Twitter page to display the panel session.

Search out Oahu

ammunition loaded on a boat
Photo of ammunition dumped in the ocean after WWII II.

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, ammunition was stored at Schofield Barracks in the center Oahu. However, Hawaiithe tropical climate of its corroded some ammunition, causing them to leak. Towards the end of the war, decisions were made to dispose of damaged and obsolete bombs at sea.

With the help of a sophisticated underwater seabed mapping vehicle, Edwards’ team began the project in 2007 to search for approximately 16,000 bombs filled with mustard agent. Sonar was used to find metallic objects based on their response to sound waves, which was to differ from the response of the silty seabed. Edwards said the dot traces found in the sonar data matched historical photographs of how the bombs were thrown into the ocean.

marine life in ammunition
Marine life has made ammunition its habitat over the past decades.

The researchers then used manned submersibles and remote-controlled vehicles to tour ammunition on the seabed and collect samples of sediment and marine life to look for evidence that the toxins were affecting the surrounding environment. Analysis of the sediments near the ammunition showed traces of mustard agent or its degradation products from the ammunition. However, there was no evidence of mustard contamination on the marine life that was collected.

“What started as a global effort to share information regarding the impact of munitions dumped at sea now fosters European Union policy that can lead to environmental action in the Baltic Sea. It is an unexpected but important result of this EUH– conducted research, and look forward to continuing the collaboration, ”said Edwards.

This work is an example of EUH Mānoa’s research excellence goal: to advance the research and creative work enterprise (PDF), one of the four objectives identified in the 2015-25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

-Through Marc Arakaki

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