Geochemical and Physical Characteristics of Vehicle Endurance and Dust Test Courses at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground

Affiliation(s)PI/CoPIFunded by

McDonald, Eric
Caldwell, Todd

U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, Natural Environments Test Office

Keywords:dust, vehicle testing, durability, soil mechanics, YPG, Sonoran

Project Description

Intact desert pavement adjacent to a test course.U.S. Army Proving Ground (YPG) is DoD's desert environmental test center. YPG has approximately 200 miles of unpaved endurance test courses of various severity levels and three dust test courses. Originally established in the 1950's, there is concern that the endurance test courses may have worn down through the overlying desert strata to the extent that true desert conditions are no longer adequately represented.

Dust courses are established in areas of heavy underlying fine particulate layers and used for cyclic tests until depleted of dust by wind erosion from vehicle passes. The newest of the dust courses has had several years of use so there is the additional concern that these are also not representative of current operational areas in Southwest Asia.

This project is part of a subtask of an overall Desert Characterization Study addressing comparability between the World's deserts of potential military interest and available U.S. analogs such as U.S. Army Proving Ground, Arizona. The overall objectives are to better understand the effects of desert operations on performance of military equipment and to improve the fidelity of desert testing of that equipment during material Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDTAE) prior to fielding.

This project is the first on a subtask related to gaining a better understanding of the distribution of dust, soils with potential of producing dust when disturbed, the effects of that dust on performance of military equipment, and improving dust testing methodologies. This particular study was constrained to sampling six of the "dustier" vehicle endurance test courses, current active dust courses (Kofa and Cibola Dust Courses) plus the older, currently inactive Muggins Mesa Dust Course. Sampling was restricted to potential dust producing environments along each test course. Course soil samples and soil samples taken in adjacent undisturbed areas were characterized for mineralogical, geochemical, and physical properties. Furthermore, dust collected from test vehicles (wheeled and tracked) covering this terrain was analyzed for dust characterization.

Below: Dust is a high commodity for desert testing at YPG. Vehicle test courses have been located on high dust generating surfaces like desert pavements. Years of testing have lead to a significant decrease in dust content on current testing courses (b). A typical desert pavement consists of a thick vesicular (Av) horizon formed by the accumulation of dust over millennia (c). Course samples have been mixed and eroded resulting in a more coarse textured soil, with less dust producing potential.

Vehicle test courses have been located on high dust generating surfaces like desert pavements