• Time-lapse Geophysical Investigations over Known Archaeological Features Using Electrical Resistivity Imaging and Earth Resistance

      Gaffney, Christopher F.; Batt, Catherine M.; Fry, Robert J. (University of BradfordSchool of Life Sciences, 2014-12-22)
      Electrical methods of geophysical survey are known to produce results that are hard to predict at different times of the year, and under differing weather conditions. This is a problem which can lead to misinterpretation of archaeological features under investigation. The dynamic relationship between a ‘natural’ soil matrix and an archaeological feature is a complex one, which greatly affects the success of the feature’s detection when using active electrical methods of geophysical survey. This study has monitored the gradual variation of measured resistivity over a selection of study areas. By targeting difficult to find, and often ‘missing’ electrical anomalies of known archaeological features, this study has increased the understanding of both the detection and interpretation capabilities of such geophysical surveys. A 16 month time-lapse study over 4 archaeological features has taken place to investigate the aforementioned detection problem across different soils and environments. In addition to the commonly used Twin-Probe earth resistance survey, electrical resistivity imaging (ERI) and quadrature electro-magnetic induction (EMI) were also utilised to explore the problem. Statistical analyses have provided a novel interpretation, which has yielded new insights into how the detection of archaeological features is influenced by the relationship between the target feature and the surrounding ‘natural’ soils. The study has highlighted both the complexity and previous misconceptions around the predictability of the electrical methods. The analysis has confirmed that each site provides an individual and nuanced situation, the variation clearly relating to the composition of the soils (particularly pore size) and the local weather history. The wide range of reasons behind survey success at each specific study site has been revealed. The outcomes have shown that a simplistic model of seasonality is not universally applicable to the electrical detection of archaeological features. This has led to the development of a method for quantifying survey success, enabling a deeper understanding of the unique way in which each site is affected by the interaction of local environmental and geological conditions.