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A geoscience strategy for cultural resource management tested in an alluvial setting
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Laws mandate that cultural resources be identified, evaluated, protected and preserved. These requirements have been ignored. The unexpected occurrence of buried cultural resources has caused time consuming and costly delays in construction projects. Therefore, a strategy to aid cultural resource management (CRM) is needed. A geoscience strategy for CRM was developed by modifying engineering geological approaches. Evaluation of existing approaches revealed a common three or four phase strategy to converge on a solution. Adapting the approaches led to a geoscience strategy that combined the mandated CRM phases with engineering stages into a decision tree. Objective scientific inquiry and assessment are the center of the strategy tree. Decisions are made by managers based on benefits, costs and risks. The process cascades positively through the phases and stages if benefits are greater than risks and costs. If not, the solution is: no action or to redefine the problem. The geoscience strategy to assist CRM was examined for three shipwrecks in alluvial environments. The first two, an unnamed British merchant vessel found in the York River, and the Bertrand buried along the Missouri River came from literature review. The third, USS F,astport, a Union ironclad gunboat, scuttled on the Red River was derived from experience. Archival information suggested the location of the gunboat. The subsequent search for the USS Eastport relied on an engineering geologic approach. Geomorphic analyses determined the location of the 1864 channel where the US Navy abandoned the boat. Magnetometer surveys revealed strong dipolar anomalies in the area of the abandoned channel. Geotechnical exploration indicate the remains of two boats believed to be the USS Eastport and Dix. Geotechniques evaluated the choices for a conceptual excavation design needed to test the vessels for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. This research demonstrates the importance of a geoscience strategy and the need for an interdisciplinary team for CRM. The geoscience strategy is efffective because it offers a geologic framework for the phases of CRM. Improved archaeological interpretations of context and significance are possible because artifacts are placed in their stratigraphic provenance. Interdisciplinary cooperation will save time and money by reducing redundant and fragmented efforts as the team converges on a common solution.
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Includes bibliographical references.
Albertson, Paul Edwin (1994). A geoscience strategy for cultural resource management tested in an alluvial setting. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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