Development of Mine Explosion Ground Truth Smart Sensors

Award Information
Department of Energy
Solitcitation Year:
Solicitation Number:
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Topic Code:
53 a
Small Business Information
Rocky Mountain Geophysics, Inc.
167 Piedra Loop, Los Alamos, NM, 87544-3836
Hubzone Owned:
Woman Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Principal Investigator
 Steven Taylor
 (505) 412-2841
Business Contact
 Steven Taylor
Title: Dr.
Phone: (505) 412-2841
Research Institution
One main issue associated with nuclear explosion monitoring is the paucity of accurate Ground Truth (GT) data used for the calibration of regional seismic networks, particularly in aseismic regions. Location accuracy of U.S. monitoring and the International Monitoring System provided for by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty could be significantly improved with accurate GT data from large mines distributed across the globe. We are developing a Ground-Truth Monitoring System (GTMS) consisting of an inexpensive, lightweight smart sensor unit that can be mailed to and emplaced near large mining regions. The GTMS can operate autonomously and automatically transmit accurate information regarding explosion epicenter, origin time and magnitude. Because of inexpensive ORBCOMM satellite two-way communications, we are developing an accompanying Ground-Truth Processing Center (GTPC) that can be used to improve calibration and processing over the course of a deployment providing accurate ground-truth data within the operational constraints provided by the intended users. In Phase I, we have demonstrated the feasibility of developing a Ground-Truth Monitoring System in terms of hardware design and software (signal processing) algorithms. It appears feasible that the system will meet specified operational goals of ground-truth accuracy, low cost, low power consumption, and autonomous operation without any human intervention. A prototype hardware system using seismic geophones, MEMS sensors and acoustic microphones is already being developed along with a processing framework. We have also developed the concept of a Ground Truth Processing Center (GTPC) which can be used to improve calibration parameters over the course of a deployment. Probably the only constraint that will be difficult to meet is the cost and weight. Our estimates for minimum cost and the total weight of the system is going to be approximately $1500, and 3 lbs, respectively including enclosure, batteries and sensors. In Phase II, a prototype system will be built and deployed at mines in different geophysical regions. We will focus on algorithm improvement and automation for the Ground-Truth Monitoring System that can be implemented within hardware and processing constraints. Because the GTMS will have two-way communication, we propose to develop a Ground-Truth Processing Center (GTPC) that can be used to adaptively improve ground-truth accuracy over the duration of a deployment. The Ground-Truth Monitoring System will have many applications besides nuclear explosion monitoring. Because of our flexible processing system, algorithms can be adapted to locate and track micro-earthquakes caused by injection wells used for carbon sequestration, oil and gas recovery, geothermal plants and hydro-fracturing operations. The system will also be useful for border security and perimeter monitoring of facilities as well as underground mine safety systems. For many applications, our business model actually becomes similar to that of a home security service where our GTPC is used to improve monitoring capabilities as well as provide high-confidence alerts.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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