U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Chemosphere 70 (2008) 1175–1181.


During live fire training exercises, large amounts of explosives are consumed. Low order detonations of high explosive payloads result in the patchy dispersal of particles of high explosive formulations over large areas of firing range soils. Dissolution of explosives from explosive formulation particles into soil pore water is a controlling factor for transport, fate, and effects of explosive compounds. We developed an empirical method to evaluate soils based on functionally defined effective dissolution rates. An automated Accelerated Solvent Extractor was used to determine the effective elution rates under controlled conditions of RDX and TNT from soil columns containing particles of Comp B. Contrived soils containing selected soil geosorbants and reactive surfaces were used to quantitatively determine the importance of these materials. Natural soils from training ranges of various soil types were also evaluated. The effects of geosorbants on effective elution rates were compound- and sorbent-specific. TNT elution was less than that of RDX and was greatly slowed by humic acid. Iron and iron-bearing clays reduced the effective elution rates of both RDX and TNT. This empirical method is a useful tool for directly generating data on the potential for explosives to leach from firing range soils, to identify general bulk soil characteristics that can be used to predict the potential, and to identify means to engineer soil treatments to mitigate potential transport.