Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mapping the undiscovered ruins of Pompeii

The ground penetrating radar (GPR) technique was tested in Pompeii, in an unexplored area where the Roman ruins are partially buried in the volcanic deposits. The method was also combined with time domain reflectometry (TDR) measurements to estimate the dielectric properties of the different volcanic units. In spite of the total thickness of the covering materials and the high signal attenuation measured in some layers, the radar was able to show a detailed image of the volcanic sediments and to locate the manmade structures hidden in the ash deposits.

Moreover, the present study shows that the integrated use of GPR and TDR techniques could be successfully employed to evaluate the performance of the radar in specific terrains covering archaeological sites. Since it is unlikely that a large part of Pompeii will ever be excavated, GPR could be successfully used to produce detailed maps of the ruins still hidden in the subsurface, giving archaeologists the possibility of reconstructing the entire urban development of this unique ancient city.

More at  Wiley