Development of tools for surveying and monitoring coastal and underwater archaeological sites

Type of Activity: RTD


Surveying and monitoring archaeological sites is a prerequisite for the assessment of physical and geochemical stability. Remote sensing techniques are one of the most cost effective tools for regional scanning of the seabed surface sediments and morphology by full or semi-automated classification based on reflectivity index. On underwater sites, sidescan sonar, sub-bottom profilers, magnetometers, and single and multibeam echosounders have been used to locate and map archaeological sites both on and within the seabed for many years. One of the significant strengths of the SASMAP project is building on existing technologies.

Data courtesy of The Danish Coastal Authority. Processing of data Dr. Rory Quinn, University of Ulster. Strandingsmuseet: (in danish)

Objectives: The objectives of WP2 are several fold:

  • To assimilate the geological models from WP1 into two GIS systems
  • To obtain satellite imagery of two case study sites in Denmark and Greece and incorporate them into the GIS
  • Combine the above data sets and analyse them within the GIS systems in order to identify potential areas of archaeology, in particular those areas under threat of erosion
  • To develop and demonstrate the use of a prototype 3D parametric sub bottom profiler
  • Conduct fieldwork over two separate periods in Denmark and Greece using a combination of sub bottom profiler, multibeam echosounder and side scan sonar

Incorporate these data sets into the GIS in order to develop a tool to seamlessly monitor the stability of near coastal underwater archaeological sites.

The planned deployment of the innovative 3D shallow seismic technique will enhance the in situ evaluation of the archaeological artefact. This cutting edge method will make it possible to visualize detailed 3D sceneries of archaeological sites and the surrounding sediments. By virtue of a 3D resolution of less than 0.5m the assessment of the physical stability of archaeological sites at water depths in the range of 0 – 10m will be improved considerably.


The project will show the advantages and applicability of 3D-modelling which ultimately leads to new custom built innovative technologies with the application of a “seamless” approach to the mapping and assessing of coastal and underwater submerged archaeological sites. This main objective of WP2 will be achieved through a “down-scaling” approach i.e. working from the large regional scale to the small local and detailed scale. In addition state of the art satellite imagery techniques will be used in the SASMAP project to monitor changes in coastline morphology and sediment transport.


The down-scaling process will span from regional satellite scanning of theoretical optimal target areas, detailed multibeam and shallow seismic surveying of selected target areas to new development and innovative use of 3D shallow seismic investigations of identified targets. All the non-destructive data will be ideal for GIS presentation, interpretation and modelling of the physical appearance of the archaeological sites.  The GIS will be custom made for input of hydrodynamic and sediment regime data for evaluation of site stability as well as data input on physical stability and preservation status.


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