Detection and localisation of radioactive environmental anomalies using aerial radiometric surveying

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics


The project is to develop methodologies and protocols for the use of Mobile radiation
mapping technologies to identify anomalies. It is specifically aimed at developing
methodologies for the identification of valuable ore bodies using both aerial and ground
based techniques.
Accordingly the project will involve a significant element of fieldwork based mainly in the
southwest UK but also seeking to conduct research in one of more other countries. This will
potentially include Somaliland, Romania, Japan (Fukushima) and Portugal.
The project will make use of multi-rotor UAV radiation mapping systems developed by
Bristol and the commercialised by Imitec Ltd (a UoB spin-out) along with car and backpack
based variants they have also developed. As part of the project the PhD student will learn to
fly UAVs and gain CAA qualification.
A key aspect of the project is to develop a next generation radiation mapping technology
whereby radiation data is combined with accurate terrain data gained by LiDAR to provide a
more accurate representation of the true radiation field. This technology may then be applied
to nuclear site monitoring as well as the identification of near surface ore bodies that carry a
radiometric signature.
We will use fieldwork at home and abroad to develop a suite of high quality datasets
combining LiDAR and Radiation data. Subsequently these data sets will act as test data for
the development of some specialist software for inverse modelling the most likely solution
for the 'true' radiation field at each given site. We will also use the UoB test facility at
Fenswood Farm (just south of Bristol) to establish some smaller scale tests with complicated
geometries and shine paths.
Furthermore we will also apply to the NERC ARF programme to gain access to a fixed wing
aircraft to provide comparative higher altitude data against our low altitude UAV surveys.
Already we have submitted a proposal to conduct a survey across the west Mendip hills,
where significant mineralisation is known to have occurred along with at least one
radiological hot spot.
By comparing radiation data from aircraft, UAVs, cars and backpacks all for the same area,
we will seek to develop new methodologies and protocols for rapid surveying (prospecting)
of a target area.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509619/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1792927 Studentship EP/N509619/1 01/10/2016 30/06/2020 Dean Connor
Description Pint of Science Presentation - Rise of the Nuclear Drones 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A summary of the interesting results from radiometric surveying of the Fukushima Region of Japan was presented to members of the public in an informal setting. The pint of science series organises informal talks for researchers to give to the general public within bars/pubs around several local areas of the UK.
This particular presentation was presented at the Kings Arms in Easton, Bristol.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018