Mapping the archaeological soil archive of sand and gravel mineral reserves in Britain

Ward, I.; Smith, Barry; Lawley, Russell. 2009 Mapping the archaeological soil archive of sand and gravel mineral reserves in Britain. Geoarchaeology, 24 (1). 1-21.

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Primary sand and gravel deposits in Britain play an important role in preserving our cultural heritage and are also a valuable aggregate resource. While an understanding of the extrinsic properties of the soil archive (such as pH, redox, groundwater) can provide a firstorder assessment of the potential risk to any archaeologically sensitive deposits, we have very poor definition of spatial variations in the extrinsic properties of soil that influence archaeological preservation at a regional and national scale. Developments in digital geological mapping, remote sensing, and geochemical survey data undertaken by the British Geological Survey (BGS) have, however, significantly extended capabilities in this respect and can potentially be used to provide a primary assessment of the sensitivity of the present soil archive and the potential risk from changes to the soil process on cultural material in areas earmarked for aggregate extraction. Two of the major factors affecting archaeological preservation - soil acidification and groundwater - can be mapped or predicted at scales of better than 1:50,000 across increasingly large parts of the country using a combination of regional hydrogeological, geophysical, and geochemical data. Additional data from site investigations may further refine preservation potential as a function of changes in redox potential and acidity. These data, maps and models can be used to (1) better establish a baseline for archaeological preservation at a regional and national scale and (2) improve our understanding of how the physical and chemical properties of the near surface environment can be managed to sustainably preserve archaeological materials in areas impacted by sand and gravel extraction.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > Minerals
Additional Keywords: Aggregates, Archaeology, Mineral resources, Soils
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 13 Mar 2009 15:18 +0 (UTC)

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