The National Academies

NCHRP 25-25/Task 98 [Active]

Practical Guide for Developing Effective Scopes of Work for the Geophysical Investigation of Cemeteries
[ NCHRP 25-25 (Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment) ]

  Project Data
Funds: 75,000
Staff Responsibility: Ann M. Hartell
Research Agency: WSP USA Inc.
Principal Investigator: Mr. Shawn Patch
Effective Date: 2/16/2016
Completion Date: 1/26/2018



Cemeteries are a historic property type commonly encountered during surveys conducted for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) on federally-funded transportation projects.  Many historic cemeteries contain unmarked graves and do not have well-defined structural boundaries.   Due to the sensitive nature of these property types and the often restrictive state laws regarding the disturbance of graves, non-invasive geophysical investigations can be an effective tool in establishing property boundaries.  Most state DOT environmental staff do not have technical expertise in geophysical applications for archaeology therefore guidance is needed on how to write or review an adequate scope of work for these services.  conduct this work.  A poorly scoped geophysical survey, unrealistic goals, and lack of knowledge of equipment or its limitations can lead to poor results and an unfavorable view of these useful techniques.  Poor results also can lead to project delays and unintentional site disturbance.  The success of a geophysical survey for archaeological applications depends on many factors including vegetation, soil type, weather, experience of the Principal Investigator, instrument type(s), data collection methods, and data analysis methods.  Successfully using archaeological surveys that use highly technical geophysics are dependent on an appropriately detailed scope of work.


Research Objective:


The objective of this research is to provide guidance on (1) the factors to consider when preparing and reviewing a Scope of Work for the geophysical investigation of cemeteries and (2) how to establish investigation requirements and realistic goals.  The guidance will be supported by case studies that best demonstrate application of the guidance. The guidance also may be applicable to the use of geophysical methods for other archaeological investigations not involving cemeteries.  The guidance should be sufficient for a novice to use to write and appropriately review an effective Scope of Work for the geophysical investigation of cemeteries. For the purposes of this research, geophysical methods include ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic methods, magnetic methods, resistivity, and LIDAR.

Status: Final report is in development. Anticipated February 2018.

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