The National Academies

NCHRP 25-25/Task 98 [Final]

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

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Research Agency: WSP/New South Associates
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 sufficient technical expertise in geophysical applications for archaeology.  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.  


This research provides 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 and reporting requirements for a survey.  The guidance is supported by case studies that demonstrate appropriate application of geophysical methods and is accompanied by an annotated bibliography of resources on geophysics in cemeteries.

The contractor's Final Report (.pdf), including the bibliography, is available HERE.
The annotated bibliography in a searchable spreadsheet format (.csv) is available HERE.
The bibliography is also provided as an electronic library in Zotero format (.ris). Download as a ZIP file 
Zotero is a free, open-source research tool that allows users to add new resources and customize search tags and folders. A video tutorial (.mp4, ~300MB) showing how to get started with Zotero is available HERE.

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