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Geological & geophysics

Geological services & geophysics

Chiltern archaeology has many years of experience in geological surveys, geophysics, auger traverses, sediment analyses, thin section work and worked stone identification. Read on to discover what we can offer your field site, research project or business.

Auger traverses: A rapid method of obtaining an overview of the geological character, soil profiles, and sediment or rock depth.
In alluvial areas it has been very successful in locating palaeochannels and determining a history of sedimentation. This is a quick and easy method of analysis, but it is difficult in some terrain such as in a Clay-with-flints area, or where sediments and soils contain numerous large rocks.

Geological surveys

A geological survey is an important part of every archaeological field report. The requirements of this part of the fieldwork or desk-based assessment will vary for each project. Even a full study of the geological background is by far the cheapest element of the field research and could save time and effort later in the project - and hence reduce costs overall.
By determining essential information on landscape, sediment and preservation potential amongst many other factors, the archaeological team are assisted by a well informed geological background. The full potential of the site may include information from the following list:
  • A geological overview as a basis for understanding the site - with or without a map or cross-section.
  • Water resources (past, present or future)
  • Natural processes (which are often confused with or alter archaeological features).
  • Rock or sediment characterisation (identification of type, together with interpretation of natural processes involved).
  • Identification and sourcing of stone (lithics or worked stone) – is it local or exotic?

Geological analysis can include:
  • Rock, sediment or lithic identification.
  • Sourcing of stone materials.
  • Thin section analyses enabling more refined identification, characterisation and sourcing.
  • Sediment analysis in terms of grain size parameters, lithology, grain type and character, sedimentary structures, etc leading to an environmental analysis.

Resistivity: Our fast and experienced team can make this a good option for a geophysical survey. The meter detects resistance to an electrical current sent into the ground during the survey. The location of features at a pre-excavation stage ensures better positioned trenches and hence better quality investigations, with no wasted time or money.

Surveys cost c. £150 per day covering 400 sq metres with processing & interpretation.
Magnetic susceptibility: Widely used in landscape studies or to detect habitation layers in archaeological excavations, this technique is useful to cover large areas fairly quickly. As this technique does not require the presence of particular features such as ditches or pits to detect human occupation it can be very useful in this respect and it can detect areas missed by other techniques.

Metal detecting: is always carried out as part of efficient excavation techniques. It could be arranged as a survey method with fieldwalking if required.

Magnetometer surveys: we regret that we no longer carry out these surveys, but we can recommend units that do this work.
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