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National Center for Physical Acoustics
University of Mississippi

Seismic Tunnel Detection

Seismic TunnelThe Custom and Border Patrol (CPB) are responsible for the safeguarding of more than 7500 miles of the U.S. border.  The development of technology for assisting CBP in the detection and surveillance of cross border tunnels is part of the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Borders and Maritime Security Division (BMSD).

Despite the large contrasts associated with tunnels they do not produce easily detectable geophysical anomalies.  The reasons include:

  1. the size of the tunnel with respect to the resolution of the geophysical technique
  2. the often irregular shape
  3. the heterogeneity of the surrounding native material itself that can produce a significant number of anomalies

Regardless, geophysical techniques remain the only ways to remotely and non-destructively sense the earth’s near surface and as such have the most promise for rapid and accurate detection of clandestine tunnels.


This research focus is to develop acoustic/seismic technology for detecting and locating tunnels with greater confidence and over a broader range of tunnel scenarios, geological settings, and environmental conditions.