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Content archived on 2024-05-27

Integrated geophysical techniques for surveying and quantifying potentially polluted sediments in european waterways


Scientific objectives and approach:

The project has been divided into 6 tasks spread through 2 phases. In the first phase, after evaluating all relevant literature on these techniques as applied to water surveys, the individual techniques of Georadar and high resolution seismics will be optimised for working on and under water.
- In the case of seismics, this means developing a multiple offset data aquisition system, software to correct for the effects of wave movement, and new processing software to enhance resolution and filter out the effects of gas content in the sediments.
- In the case of Georadar, it means developing a new positioning system on and underwater, developing software to counter the rapid attenuation of the signal underwater, optimising frequency range, and linking to sonar. A new submersible georadar antenna will also be produced by one of the RTD partners.
In the second phase of the project, the combined techniques will be tested at 6 sites in Europe covering lakes to rivers to canals, with a range of sediment and contaminated sludge types, which will serve as case histories. Where needed, the techniques can be optimised, based on feedback from the field trials. Processing of the individual data contains the additional factor of ensuring format compatibility, which is essential if the crucial integration step will succeed. The aim is to produce a practical site surveying tool with guidelines for use, and a data management platform which links data manipulation to an easy-to-use, graphical interface. Since this project aims to turn scientific results into a practical geophysical tool for environmental applications, there is a separate task devoted to the 6 case history sites, so that the results of surveying must be used to work out the economic and environmental impact of remediation work. The results of this task also are very important in the dissemination of results to end-users and stakeholders, and provide input also to the task of Market Surveying and Dissemination, without which the results of the project would fail to gain access to a wider audience.

The project has the following quantifiable deliverables:
- an integrated GPR/shallow seismic system for sludge quantification in underwater sediments
- development of automatic layer discrimination GPR software, regarding water/sludge/solids
- calculating software for automatic generation of cubic meters to be dredged
- Enhanced, real-time imaging system for data visualisation and presentation
- a management tool for end-user authorities and dredging companies
- Data archival and data management system.
- a new, submersible GeoRadar antenna.

Problems to be solved:

Europe's water ways are becoming increasingly contaminated with sludge (soft, bottom sediments) polluted with heavy metals, pesticides, hydrocarbons, and other toxins. Cost effective remediation depends on an accurate 3D mapping of these layers. This project combines two non-invasive geophysical techniques, Georadar and High Resolution Shallow Seismics for the first time to deliver an advanced, integrated detection system which can be used for high-resolution site surveys, and which is a major improvement on current methods. Completion of the project will mean that environmental site surveying and subsequent remediation will become more cost effective, and therefore implemented more often - if the project is not carried out, costs will remain prohibitive for many organisations.

Expected Impacts:

The SME partners are geophysical companies working on the cutting edge of new technologies, who need to maintain their lead over any competitors in and outside the EU. Without the technical support of this project, this lead will not be maintained. The costs of cleaning the European Waterways is estimated to b be confirmed by e 27.4 Billion €, if all waterways need to be remediated. This can only site surveys. The costs of surveying the waterways is 700 M €. The SME partners intend to ensure that they occupy a significant part of this niche market, and other potential users will benefit through licenses of the technology. In the end, by cleaning polluted waterways in the EU the greatest benefit will be to the environment of Europe and its people.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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4,Mester-u. 4

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Total cost
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Participants (8)