U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Thermochimica Acta 384 (2002) 173–185.


Estimation of the amounts of residues resulting from high-order detonation of munitions is complicated by the presence of residues from previous detonations and the inability to easily obtain adequately-sized samples to overcome spatial heterogeneity in residue deposition. This study was conducted to assess the use of snow-covered ranges to provide these types of estimates. Specifically, snow-covered ranges were used to estimate the amount of explosives residues that resulted from detonation of individual mortar rounds and a small antipersonnel land mine. At Fort Drum, NY, 60 mm mortars were fired and at Camp Ethan Allen, VT, 81 mm mortars and a Yugolavian PMA2 land mine were detonated by EOD (explosives ordnance disposal) personnel after attaching C4 (RDX) and/or a blasting cap. The locations where residues were deposited were identified by the presence of soot from the detonation of TNT on the surface of the otherwise clean snow. Large surface snow samples were collected with a snow shovel and the melted snow was extracted and analyzed by gas chromatography with an electron capture detector (GC-ECD) and reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC). For both types of mortars the main charge was composition B (60% RDX and 39% TNT); for the land mine, the main charge was TNT with an RDX booster. The major residues produced for the mortars were RDX and nitroglycerine (NG), with lesser amounts of HMX, and TNT. Surface concentrations ranged from as high as 4430 μg/m2 for RDX to <0.05 μg/m2 for TNT, both at Camp Ethan Allen. For the land mine, the major residues were TNT and RDX with surface concentrations of 20.8 and 1.8 μg/m2, respectively.