As weapons go, the land mine or the IED is deadly efficient: Cheap, easy to deploy, and difficult to defend against. They create casualties in today's conflicts and then remain decades to claim victims long after the war.
It's estimated they have killed or maimed more than a million people around the world since 1975.
More than 100 million remain undetected around the world, many of them beneath desert terrain in the Middle East.
Removing the threat is dangerous, difficult and time consuming. The military has specialized vehicles for the job, but first you have to find them. Methods ranging from manual probing to ground penetrating radar are used; refining detection methods is a priority.
Desert soils vary in mineral content and the amount of compaction. Those differences can affect efforts to detect landmines hidden below. Now the search for new methods of dealing with those differences has come to an organization with a long history of studying desert soils, the Desert Research Institute.
The research is being funded by a $300 thousand dollar grant from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The work will actually be done at the army's proving ground in Yuma, Arizona, but it will draw on DRI’s expertise. It's hoped the research will lead to better equipment and refined techniques to help find landmines and IED’s before they kill.