Nav: Home

Soil studies can be helpful for border control

July 08, 2020

URBANA, Ill. - Underground tunnels have been used by warriors and smugglers for thousands of years to infiltrate battlegrounds and cross borders. A new analysis published in the Open Journal of Soil Science presents a series of medieval and modern case studies to identify the most restrictive and ideal soil and geologic conditions for tunneling.

"Understanding the history of soil tunnels shows us that certain types of soils and geographies are uniquely suited for tunneling. Countries with warfare or smuggling issues, including the U.S.-Mexico border and Israeli borders, need detailed soil and hydrology maps of their borders to identify soil types, typographies, and thus areas where soil tunnels could be constructed," according to study co-author Kenneth Olson, professor emeritus and soil scientist in the Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Olson and co-author David Speidel looked at several tunnel systems throughout history, including examples in Syria, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Afghanistan, Mexico, and the United States.

The authors discuss the history of each area's tunnels, including construction and use. They detail the geological materials, bedrock, water tables, and climate for each tunnel network, and note its resilience or demise.

Using the case studies, the authors are able to identify site conditions that are most susceptible to soil tunneling and make specific recommendations for today's most vulnerable border crossings.

"Most cases of successful tunneling throughout history were in arid areas with a relatively low permanent water table," notes Olson. "These areas will need to be monitored for sound and vibrations to disrupt tunneling by smugglers."

Olson's previous work explaining how soils and tunneling were an equalizer during the Vietnam War caught the eyes of several military groups, which led him to expand his soil tunnel warfare and smuggling research into this more recent study.

Olson is a Vietnam-era veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1973. Speidel is a U.S. Army Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Vietnam-era veteran as well as a USDA soil resource conservationist and retiree previously detailed by the Foreign Agricultural Service as a Civilian Response Crops Agricultural Advisor.
-end-
The article, "Review and analysis: Successful use of soil tunnels in medieval and modern warfare and smuggling," is published in the Open Journal of Soil Science [DOI: 10.4236NK /ojss.2020.105010]. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Source: Ken Olson krolson@illinois.edu

News writer: Leslie Myrick lsweet@illinois.edu

Date: July 7, 2020

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Related Case Studies Articles:

Kidney transplantations: Better results with larger case volumes
Kidney transplantations: better results with larger case volumes. Survival probabilities increase in hospitals where kidneys are transplanted more frequently.
Quantitative reconstruction of formation paleo-pressure and case studies
As the paleo-pressure is significant for hydrocarbon accumulation and reservoir formation, geologists are eager for an accurate reconstruction of paleo-pressure, although that is very hard.
The case for economics -- by the numbers
In recent years, criticism has been levelled at economics for being insular and unconcerned about real-world problems.
Case management in primary care associated with positive outcomes
In a systematic review, researchers identified three characteristics of case management programs that consistently yielded positive results: case selection for frequent users with complex problems, high-intensity case management interventions and a multidisciplinary care plan.
The case for retreat in the battle against climate change
With sea level rise and extreme weather threatening coastal communities, it's no longer a question of whether they are going to retreat; it's where, when and how.
Case studies suggest that 'red flag' laws play a role in preventing mass shootings
Case studies of individuals threatening mass violence suggest that extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), colloquially known as 'red flag' orders, may play a role in preventing mass shootings.
Making a case for returning airships to the skies
Reintroducing airships into the world's transportation-mix could contribute to lowering the transport sector's carbon emissions and can play a role in establishing a sustainable hydrogen based economy.
Why do mosquitoes choose us? Lindy McBride is on the case
Most of the 3,000+ mosquito species are opportunistic, but Princeton's Lindy McBride is most interested in the mosquitoes that scientists call 'disease vectors' -- carriers of diseases that plague humans -- some of which have evolved to bite humans almost exclusively.
Psychiatry: Case notes indicate impending seclusion
Using notes made by the attending healthcare professionals about psychiatric patients enables impending coercive measures to be predicted in advance -- potentially even through automated text analysis.
ECDC and EMCDDA make the case for active case finding of communicable diseases in prison
What are the most (cost-) effective ways to prevent and control communicable diseases in prison settings?
More Case Studies News and Case Studies Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Biology Of Sex
Original broadcast date: May 8, 2020. Many of us were taught biological sex is a question of female or male, XX or XY ... but it's far more complicated. This hour, TED speakers explore what determines our sex. Guests on the show include artist Emily Quinn, journalist Molly Webster, neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, and structural biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Wubi Effect
When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huweai and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China's technological renaissance almost didn't happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn't fit on a keyboard.  Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with reporting assistance from Yang Yang. Special thanks to Martin Howard. You can view his renowned collection of typewriters at: antiquetypewriters.com Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.