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Author Topic: Introduction: off target  (Read 646 times)
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« on: August 09, 2006, 07:12:15 PM »

Ha! I got here first, so let me offer you a warm welcome straight off.

As this is the first board in this category - Surveying - I won't be surprised if your topics are not all right on target. (I bet your surveying isn't always on target, either!) Also, not everyone is going to understand exactly what geophysics is. Let's not worry too much, then.

Me, though I'm no expert in this field, I've some experience and frankly, I love the subject. When I started out, the best we could do before digging was archival research, then taking a look at the site from as high up as possible, preferably in the morning, or evening light.

I remember the invention of GPR just a few years ago. A lot is happening, very fast. Maybe the joke that we won't have to dig at all to gain our data will one day come true.

Good then that we have a forum in which we can discuss this.


« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 11:42:03 AM »

Thinking about the 'off-target' bit, let me tell you a story. It concerns a survey that never found what was supposed to be there.

I was helping out (in a business sense) a group of scientists based in Thanet (Kent, UK) and to earn an extra line of revenue, I persuaded them to do geophysical surveying. A client - property developer - intended to develop a site in the port of Ramsgate and to meet council regulations, he needed to survey the site as it was on top of a rubbish tip. The tip had been closed for four decades, covered and built over.

The Thanet District Council gave us a local map with the tip drawn on, so we felt confident is knowing what was where. Right in the middle of the area for the tip, we drilled down and found - nothing. We drilled deeper, then deeper again. Still nothing. We moved the drilling rig around the site, each time drilling very deep, and we never found anything, anywhere.

When we went back to the council, we asked to see the records for the site, as by law, everything dumped there had to have been recorded. The answer was that all records had disappeared after the site's closure and as records were transferred to the council at its formation. Privately, we were told that the records had been stolen by a council official.

We therefore do not know where the tip actually was. It certainly is not where the council says. However, next to our client's property is a new housing development. We can both guess what's under the new homes, can't we?

Interestingly (for me at least), our senior geologist would not consider releasing the now certain fact that the tip is not where it should be. In his view, this was a matter best left unspoken. Clearly, I must be naive, in thinking differently.

Well, if that survey was a secret, it isn't any more.
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2006, 09:57:06 PM »

Good story Sol! Curiosity begs a question, is provision made in the law for violations on the side of the officials, both council members and archeologists? I can easily picture bribery between a certain council member and the developer, at the very least the appearance of impropriety.

This news item brings to light the absolute best method for surveys. The kit is real inexpensive, a book of matches. I am being facetious of coarse, I would never expect someone to actually do this for that reason alone, but when opportunity knocks as shown here, it is a great opportunity.

- Bart

Archaeologists Often Find Treasures In Ashes Left By Wildfires

Associated Press

DESCANSO, Calif. - Margaret Hangan finds history in ashes.

As a Forest Service archaeologist, she scours the smoldering moonscapes left by wildfires for signs of long-gone civilizations.

After the Horse Fire burned through forest land just east of San Diego last summer, Hangan found flat-topped granite boulders that 2,000 years ago were part of a Kumeyaay tribe village.

As she worked, an oak tree still burned nearby, its solid trunk a living ember.

"This place was happening," Hangan said of the village. "They had water, food, grass for baskets - everything they needed."

Forest Service archaeologists have found more than 318,000 historic sites in federal parkland. Thousands more have been unearthed by workers in state parks.

Still, the search goes on, with experts in fire-prone areas from California to Arkansas often relying on wildfires to clear dense underbrush and reveal the remnants of villages and campgrounds.

"Fires are a double-edged sword," said Richard Fitzgerald, an archaeologist for California state parks. "They can be very destructive, but after a big fire you can find new sites, even in areas that have been surveyed before."

During the gargantuan Day Fire that burned for nearly a month in Los Padres National Forest north of Los Angeles, fire crews found an abandoned gold mining camp and an adobe homestead from the 1800s.

After the fire was fully contained Oct. 2, archaeologists prepared to conduct a wide survey, including an area where teams discovered 10 sites after a smaller fire in June. Among other things, they found a cave with rock art and a site with unusual beads made from freshwater shells.

"The Day Fire was a much more intense fire, so it will be interesting to see what we find," said Patricia Likins, an archaeologist assigned to Los Padres National Forest.

Federal and state agencies said the majority of historic site discoveries are made after fires. David Jurney, an archaeologist in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest in Arkansas, estimated his teams make four times as many finds during post-fire surveys than they do digging through overgrown stretches of forest.

Most finds are small, yielding thumbnail-sized scatters of rock flakes left behind by hunters sharpening arrowheads or piles of rich brown earth, called midden, that remain from prehistoric kitchen scraps.

In rare instances, fires unveil large structures. Archaeologists discovered fortress-like stone walls after the 2003 Cedar Fire ravaged Cuyamaca State Park northeast of San Diego.

During fires, archaeologists sometimes move with firefighters to help prevent damage to already recorded sites. Bulldozers are often directed to work around settlements, and helicopter pilots are warned against dropping fire retardant on rocks decorated with delicate pictographs.

"The No. 1 goal is to put the fire out, but there's flexibility in how that's done," said Paul Claeyssens, a Forest Service archaeologist in Oregon.

Fire crews working near existing sites can also set controlled backfires that burn at lower temperatures than wild blazes that can get so hot that rocks simply explode, obliterating any possible traces of past civilizations.

After the Horse Fire, Hangan was relieved to find the boulders in the ancient Kumeyaay village intact. The granite stones were pocked with "bedrock mortars," man-made oval depressions once used for grinding seeds or meal from acorns gathered in the forest.

"Someone really loved these rocks," Hangan said.

Because many sites contain Indian artifacts or burial grounds, trained tribe members often join professional archaeologists for post-fire hunts.

Frank Brown, a Kumeyaay cultural expert and firefighter, said the discoveries after the Horse Fire were important to tribe members.

"We found five or six new sites that had never been recorded by anybody that are really significant to the Kumeyaay," Brown said.

After fires reveal artifacts, archaeologists must protect them from potential looters.

Hangan noted an uptick in prehistoric relics - pottery, lithic flakes, arrowheads - being sold on the Internet after the Cedar Fire, even though removing such artifacts from public property is prohibited under federal law.

Often, archaeologists recommend closing burn areas to the public until new grass and chaparral begin to screen exposed sites from casual view.

"It's a delicate balance," Hangan said. "The public has a right to see what belongs to it, but we have to protect it, too."


Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2006, 10:50:28 PM »

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Late Afternoon, Cuyamaca Lake, Cuyamaca State Park (c) Gar Cropser

The mountains of Cuyamaca State Park

The forest fire.
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2006, 12:04:43 AM »

I remember the invention of GPR just a few years ago. A lot is happening, very fast. Maybe the joke that we won't have to dig at all to gain our data will one day come true.

Look how far this technology has come:

Zond GPR
he Zond GPR is a powerful combination of Ground Penetrating Radar and computer software. The Zond is capable of reaching targets with depths of up to 30 meters!* Multiple antennas available.

 * 30 meter depth based on optimum settings on 38MHz antenna. Currently for export only. United States sales pending FCC waiver

Prism Software provides powerful access to your radar data
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