Underwater Archaeology and Submerged Cultural Resources

ESI Environmental Services, Inc 

Environmental Services, Inc. (ESI) has conducted underwater archaeological investigations in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida in riverine, estuarine, and marine settings. Furthermore, ESI contributed resources to a visit of the Titanic with legendary film maker James Cameron (the resulting documentary was featured on the Discovery Channel).

Submerged Cultural Resources refer to archaeological deposits and sites that are found in underwater environments (i.e., lakes, rivers, springs, the continental shelf, etc.).

Cultural resources are typically found in these environments include: shipwrecks, historic structural remains (wharfs, lighthouses, etc.), and prehistoric deposits (occupations, middens, etc.). Underwater archaeology consists of several methods of investigation depending on the submerged resource and setting.

Services include pre-project evaluations, Section 106 compliance, remote sensing and video surveys, mapping, photo documentation, archival and historical research, Phase I, II, III underwater archaeological surveys and testing,  and report production. Investigation methodologies include remote sensing surveys, diver investigations, and underwater excavation.

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Remote sensing includes:

  • Side-Scan Sonar: Side-scan sonar is an acoustic device that emits high frequency sound outwards (sideways) to “see” what is on the ocean (or river, or lake) bottom. This is useful for locating potential submerged resources in the waterway and can provide a visual depiction of the area.
  • Magnetometer: A magnetometer is a device that measures variations in the earth’s magnetic field. Variations are caused by the presence of ferrous metal or iron objects in the vicinity. This is useful for locating anamalies that may or may not be visible on the ocean (or river, or lake) bottom indicating the potential presence of cultural resources.
  • Sub-Bottom Profiler: A sub-bottom profiler is an acoustic device that is able to penetrate through the ocean (or river, or lake) floor and see beneath the sediments. This is useful for finding buried pipelines and shipwrecks, as well as ancient river channels and sinkholes.

Representative Projects:

US 17 Washington, North Carolina
Homosassa Spring, Florida

*ESI does not provide engineering or land surveying services in North Carolina and such services in North Carolina are contracted to appropriately licensed individuals and firms.

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