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Geophysics case study - I will explore techniques used by people (primarily archeologists), to explore the areas of ground prior to archaeological research and excavation occurring

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In this Case Study, I will explore techniques used by people (primarily archeologists), to explore the areas of ground prior to archaeological research and excavation occurring; the techniques, subsequently help archaeologists determine if the site is of archaeological value, which would improve our knowledge concerning may aspects of science, including human civilization.


  1. One method that is used to explore the area of ground for archeological research is ground – penetrating radar. This method entails geophysics and uses radar pulses to construct a 3D image of the sub surfaces of the designated archaeological site. The penetrative power of GPR is up to 15m within the ground, ultimately providing archaeologists with a fair understanding of the type of ground that is going to be explored and probably some data of what lies buried in the ground:image00.png

The above diagram, displays the GPR’s radargram; the radargram is used to show the pulse reflections of different media. In this case, the radargram has been used on a site in Alabama, USA and the hyperbolic (curve shaped) lines show reflections off media, possibly hinting at a human burial site.[1]

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Another survey method, shown in the table is the utilization of seismic waves; seismic p-waves can travel through solid and liquid, so information on a possible underwater river or water table can be gathered to possibly help the local residents.

  1. One last method that is used at times is aerial photography and imagery. Infrared imagery (IR) is employed to identify cool and warm areas, whilst simultaneously shaping a picture, constituting of outlines and features that are not visible from the ground; these images are created from the colour code that is used to specify a certain temperature (e.g. blue for cold).[4]



Archaeology has many environmental implications, for instance archaeology may consequent in the deformation of the landscape, thus causing visual pollution because the landscape loses its beauty and looks unattractive.  Another possible environmental factor is that it can cause air pollution as there is a chance that dangerous gases which are overlooked may be released into the atmosphere

Extensive archaeology may incite anger amongst people living in the vicinity of the archaeological site as sounds from machines used in the excavation etc can cause noise pollution.

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In addition, anomalies can occur in magnetometry since magnets are used; there could be highly magnetic igneous rocks or the presence of many iron artefacts (overlapping of iron artefacts may appear to be a large sized artefact) at an historic site. If the site is at an urban setting there will be countless variables that could affect the results like rubbish, iron, and phones- as they could disrupt the signals.


The geophysical survey method which uses electrical resistivity links with the experiment that I will execute. In the experiment I will calculate the resistivity of a wire – thus, I will endeavor to identify the type of metal it is. The reason why the experiment links in with this archaeological method is because it gives me a taste of what archaeologists do to explore the area of ground.


[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_penetrating_radar - the popular online encyclopedia

[2]BOOK:An introduction to geophysical exploration By Philip Kearey, M. Brooks, Ian Hill

[3]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_resistance_survey_archaeology - the popular online


[4]http://ldolphin.org/Geoarch.html - an online website giving broad information on many different

methods of archaeological research

...read more.

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