Survey in shallow marine and estuarine zones

Investigating the shallow seas and estuaries around our coastlines for preserved cultural heritage is becoming increasingly important with large scale devlopement of the seabed for energy production and the coastal zones for industrial and domestic use.  Over the past 20 years developments in survey methodologies in these challenging environments by workers in TSD have had a major impact in the identifying the location of these assets, strategies for their conservation and in drawing attention of the  government and public to these resources.

Dr Martin Bates

Geotechnical and geophysical survey methods have been widely used in ground investigation surveys for many years however, until Bates and his fellow workers started to deploy them for archaeological purposes their use outside industry was relatively rare.  Commencing in the early 1990’s the application by Bates of geotechnical invesitigation methods in the Thames estuary stimulated a new approach to investigation of the deeply buried sediments typically found in ourestuaries. 

This work was summarised in a publication in 2000/2003. By the late 1990’s this approach was adapted to take advantage of new geologically focused geophysical surveys to provide a seamless approach to modelling sub-surface stratigraphies that contain the archaeological resource.  Such integrated studies, also involving other earth scientists, are demonstrated by publications 2000 and 2007.  The deployment of these approaches was, of necessity, a response to development pressures in South East England and an absence of appropriate methods where surface archaeology has little relevance to that deeply buried beneath the ground surface. 

Consequently Bates used such approaches to aid developer funded fieldwork programs associated with major construction projects such as the A20 Road and Sewer Scheme, High Speed 1, the A13 and the recently developed port at Corringham.  The key to the success of these approaches was the ability to integrate disparate sources of information in an informative and useful way that interfaced not only with academics but also local government heritage curatorial and national bodies (English Heritage/CADW) standards and archiving platforms.  These were fully explored through funding from English Heritage through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund.

More recently the focus of Bates’ work has shifted towards extending research into the marine zone by examining the transition zone between marine and terrestrial environments that contains both methodological and conceptual challenges.  Publication of an approach to such challenges have been made in both 2007 and 2012.  The application of these methodologies within the marine sector was recognised through the development of protocols for geotechnical survey in the marine zone that has been adopted by COWRIE  as best practice in windfarm development mitigation.   

The research has been motivated by government, industry and public need for better methods to investigate and predict foci of buried archaeological remains in a challenging environment where the archaeology is invisible to normal technqiues. Demonstration of an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach involving geophysics and geotechnical investigation has been fundamental in providing methods to meet these needs. The research that has been conducted since the mid 1990’s has resulted not only in a series of academic publications but also commissioned reports for developers, construction companies and governmental organisations. 

The approaches developed by Bates over the last 20 years have shifted the way in which archaeological organisations approach work in the estuaries of our major rivers and this is reflected in the wider application of geoarchaeology across both contractors (i.e. the employment of geoarchaeologists within contract archaeology units) and curators (where methodologies advocated by Bates are now routine in Written Schemes of Investigation required for development).  The work has been carried forward at TSD through the establishment of contract focused group of researchers working to service the needs of the broader heritage industry and is now poised to have an impact on methods and approaches to the challenging marine environment in which we work.  The research has led to the take up of methods research by Dr Bates by local governmental organisations responsible for heritage and conservation management within the planning control sphere.  Adoption of procedures developed by Dr Bates, within guidelines for use with the offshore renewable sector, followed consultation with representatives of EMU.

Bates, M.R. 2003 Visualising the sub-surface: problems and procedures for areas of deeply stratified sediments.  277 – 289.  In: Howard, A.J., Macklin, M.G. and Passmore, D.G. (eds.) Alluvial Archaeology in Europe.   Balkema Publishers: Lisse.

Bates, M.R. and Bates, C.R. 2000 Multi-disciplinary approaches to the geoarchaeological evaluation of deeply stratified sedimentary sequences: examples from Pleistocene and Holocene deposits in southern England, United Kingdom.  Journal of Archaeological Science, 27, 845 - 858.

Bates, M.R., Barham, A.J., Pine, C.A. and Williamson, V.D. 2000 The Use of Borehole Stratigraphic Logs in Archaeological Evaluation Strategies for Deeply Stratified Alluvial Areas.  Chapter 7: pages 49 - 69.  In: Roskams, S. (ed.) Interpreting Stratigraphy: site evaluation, recording procedures and stratigraphic analysis.  BAR International Series 910. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Bates, M.R., Bates, C.R. and Whittaker, J.E. 2007 Mixed method approaches to the investigation and mapping of buried Quaternary deposits:  examples from Southern England.  Archaeological Prospection 14, 104-129.

Bates, M.R., Bates, C.R. and Briant, R.M. 2007 Bridging the gap: a terrestrial view of shallow marine sequences and the importance of the transition zone. Journal of Archaeological Science 34, 1537-1551.

Bates, M.R., Nayling, N, Bates, C.R., Dawson, S., Huws, D. And Wickham-Jones, C. 2012 A Multi-disciplinary Approach to the Archaeological Investigation of a Bedrock-Dominated Shallow-Marine Landscape: an example from the Bay of Firth, Orkney, UK.  International Journal of Nautical Archaeologydoi: 10.1111/j.1095-9270.2012.00360.

2011 – Offshore geotechnical investigation and History Environment Analysis:  Guidance for   the renewable energy sector.  EMU and Cowrie http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media