A Cornish mining consultancy has received a £5k grant from AeroSpace Cornwall to help identify areas of arsenic contamination at abandoned mine sites.
Carrak Consulting is investigating the use of an innovative remote sensing technique to help understand mining-related pollution of river catchments.
Contaminated land is a material consideration under the National Planning Policy Framework. Soils in Cornwall frequently exceed soil guideline values for arsenic, which dictate safe thresholds for human health, and so must be remediated when land is developed. Arsenic also disrupts the metabolism of plants and much remains unknown about its effects on crop health.
The project uses hyperspectral data collected from a drone to map the reflectances of soils across 273 spectral bands, which helps identify areas of high heavy metal pollution.
The aim of the research project is to establish if there is a cost-effective way to capture spectral remote sensing data that will allow arsenic contaminated soils to be identified and mapped without the need for lengthy or specialist data processing.
Carrak Consulting founder Kathy Hicks said: “Hyperspectral imaging is a powerful tool for pollution monitoring, but processing the data is challenging because of the size of the datasets and the need for expensive specialised software.
“We are delighted that this project developed an open source machine learning workflow, which can be run on the types of computers that we already own, allowing arsenic contamination to be mapped in a more commercially viable way.”