Large-area high-resolution ground-penetrating radar measurements for archaeological prospection

Abstract

Traditionally, ground–penetrating radar (GPR) measurements for near–surface geophysical archaeological prospection are conducted with single–channel systems using GPR antennae mounted in a cart similar to a pushchair, or towed like a sledge behind the operator. The spatial data sampling of such GPR devices for the non–invasive detection and investigation of buried cultural heritage was, with very few exceptions, at best 25 cm in cross–line direction of the measurement. With two or three persons participating in the fieldwork, coverage rates between a quarter hectare and half a hectare per day are common, while frequently considerably smaller survey areas at often coarse measurement spacing have been reported. Over the past years, the advent of novel multi–channel GPR antenna array systems has permitted an enormous increase in survey efficiency and spatial sampling resolution. Using GPR antenna arrays with up to 16 channels operating in parallel, in combination with automatic positioning solutions based on real–time kinematic global navigation satellite systems or robotic total–stations, it has become possible to map several hectares per day with as little as 8 cm cross–line and 4 cm in–line GPR trace spacing. While this dramatic increase in coverage rate has a positive effect on the reduction of costs of GPR surveys, and thus its more widespread use in archaeology, the increased spatial sampling for the first time allows for the high–resolution imaging of relatively small archaeological structures, such as for example 25 cm wide post–holes of Iron Age buildings or the brick pillars of Roman floor heating systems, permitting much improved archaeological interpretations of the collected data. We present the state–of–the–art in large–scale high–resolution archaeological GPR prospection, covering hardware and software technology and fieldwork methodology as well as the closely related issues of processing and interpretation of the huge data sets. Application examples from selected European archaeological sites illustrate the progress made.

Publication
Archaeological Prospection
Immo Trinks
Immo Trinks
Vice director, Key Researcher
Alois Hinterleitner
Alois Hinterleitner
Senior Researcher
Wolfgang Neubauer
Wolfgang Neubauer
Director, Key Researcher
Klaus Löcker
Klaus Löcker
Researcher
Mario Wallner
Mario Wallner
Researcher
Roland Filzwieser
Roland Filzwieser
Researcher
Hannes Schiel
Hannes Schiel
Researcher
Tanja Trausmuth
Tanja Trausmuth
Researcher
David Ruß
David Ruß
Researcher
Matthias Kucera
Matthias Kucera
Researcher