PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The east end of the Pascagoula beach has been transformed into one large science experiment. A team from Ole Miss is conducting experiments that could mean the difference between life and death for U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
They're testing how the ground reacts. A very practical use for this knowledge is finding improvised explosive devices planted under the ground in Afghanistan. IEDs have killed and maimed hundreds of troops.
"There's a big problem with finding things buried in the ground and if you want to understand how to find things buried in the ground, you have to understand the ground itself," said Dr. Craig Hickey explained. "What we're doing is we're providing the U.S. Navy with properties of the ground which they can use to model their different systems."
All this high tech gear is needed to record the slightest movement. Rick Burgett is the Ole Miss senior research engineer.
"What we're doing is measuring the amount of sound it takes to make the ground vibrate," Burgett said. "Sound is measured in DBs. So if we have a 100 DB of sound and we have geophones to measure how much the ground moves. So if it moves, say, 10 micrometers, then we've got a good answer."
For the Ole Miss students participating in this research project, it gives them a double dose of good feelings. Number one, they're furthering their own knowledge. And number two, they're potentially saving lives in war zones across the world.
"There's a lot of research that goes on behind the scenes that just no one really gets to see," said graduate student Chase Cromwell. "It's a good thing that we get to come out here and show the people in the state that NCPA is there and we actually do a great job," Cromwell said.
The research team will be working on the beach through Wednesday afternoon. City officials stress the beach is not being harmed in any way by the experiments.