Geophysics for archaeology

Geophysical survey refers to multiple techniques that measure variation in near-surface physical properties of the ground, such as magnetic properties, electromagnetic conductivity, electrical resistivity, induced polarization, self potentials, relative dielectric constant and ground density.
Buried features, like stone or brick foundations; variation in sedimentary structure and ground moisture, such as in archaeological deposits, trenches, mounds, and burial vaults; and other subsurface features have characteristic signatures that geophysical instruments can detect. Based on the measured variation in geophysical properties over a site, buried features and deposits can be accurately located and mapped without extensive excavation or other ground-disturbing methods. Researchers can use the information acquired during a geophysical survey to design cost-effective excavation strategies, reveal large-scale community patterning, and identify culturally sensitive human burial sites. Furthermore the measurements of near-surface physical properties of the ground are used in the fields of engineering, environmental remediation, hazardous waste, hazardous subsidence in urban areas, Cultural Heritage remediation and Forensic Anthropology to provide subsurface reconnaissance for law enforcement forensic and cold case investigations. Results of surveys are integrated into GIS and real-world or project-specific coordinates. The geophysical survey data integrate into other mapping platforms including ArcGIS, Surfer, AutoCAD, GMS and others. The research activities cover all aspects of shallow subsurface exploration geophysics, developing a wide range of technologies, including ground penetrating radar; seismic survey; electromagnetics; resistivity (Electrical Resistivity tomography), induced polarization; self potentials, gravity and magnetic, field-recording techniques and data-processing and data interpretation procedures. Particularly important results are related to: i) study of the influence of the geophysics instrumental parameters on the signal to noise ratio, clarifying the aspects linked to the acquisition of the data giving a concrete contribution on the implementation of new acquisition techniques; ii) new algorithms for the GPR and seismic tomography inversion procedures based on the Finsler's geometry linked to ray tracing procedure, iii) new algorithms related to the electromagnetic signal attenuation in porous
materials; iv) new algorithms related to the long-term probability of failure of the karstic cavities of historical importance.
The Institute has received various awards and prizes related to the quality of research and to its international scientific output. Currently, the research activities carried out as part of international and national projects, are concerned with:
● geophysical methods applied to archaeology;
● integration of physical and geophysical methods for non-destructive analysis of historical monuments;
● integrated geophysical studies for geological, geotechnical, hydrogeological and environmental issues;
● geophysical methods applied to engineering and geotechnics;
● acquisition and processing of seismic reflection, refraction and transmission tomography data for physical and mechanical characterization of materials;
● geophysical methods applied to non-invasive diagnosis of tree structures and to the definition of the total root zone;
● geophysical methods applied to non-invasive diagnosis of reinforced concrete structures;
● landslide study;
● study of the stability of cliffs;
● study of the stability of monuments of great historical and archaeological importance;
● study of desertification;
● study of hydrological risks and instability in urban centres;
● study of the diffusion of pollutants in the subsurface;
● study of controlled landfills (geophysical characterization of sites to use as a landfill);
● Energy certification of buildings;
● characterization of sites for installation of biomass power plants, incinerators and landfills waste;
● geophysical study of the geothermal reservoirs.