The objective of this paper is to investigate and discuss the increased capability of technology in detecting archaeological sites in a submerged environment. The paper will discuss the dynamic methods using dynamic sonars and magnetometers and how these data are analyzed and interpreted.
Advances in sonar technology have allowed for more advanced archaeological analytical capabilities. New sub-bottom profiling techniques and analytical capabilities are broadening the resolution in which discreet objects and features can be defined in the sub-surface. Advances in magnetometer processing has also allowed for an advancement in the capability for detecting small magnetic anomalies at depth and creating larger comprehensive profiles of near-surface archaeological materials. Utilizing new processing techniques in conjunction with these technologies opens the door to interpretive methods that can aid archaeologists in identifying potential archaeological sites and can help refine the process of protecting or researching these sites.
The ongoing work of imaging the near-surface Pleistocene boundary within the North American continental shelf has allowed for higher resolution analysis of natural levee formations with the use of dynamic sonar configurations. The increased use of multiple magnetometer arrays and gradiometric sensing of magnetic changes in these same areas can lead research in the direction of refining models in detecting or predicting possible archaeological materials that could date earlier than previously discovered human occupation sites. By illustrating the capabilities of these technologies and how they are used, archaeologists can now refine models and expand the search and protection of cultural resources with refined precision. This refined precision can aid in determining a potentially reduced impact of these areas from development activities. Current models image the avoidance area for archaeological sites based on large structural components of the subsurface that can now potentially be narrowed and better pinpointed.
With new survey methods and practices, hazard analyses can improve significantly while also benefitting efforts to understand archaeological landscapes across the North American continent. This paper poses a challenge for archaeologists to utilize and maximize their technological expertise, processing, and analytical capabilities. The paper also introduces the proposal that all marine operators should also consider the benefit of optimizing their survey strategies when approaching development while offshore. As technology continues to develop and offer new methods and higher resolution of the world, all parties can benefit by using the best options capable of bringing data into the next century while keeping up with global science and competition.