State-of-the-art technology assists development

With the state-of-the-art ground-penetrating radar (G.P.R.), archeologists can now help in the planning process and development of a particular area. 

The G.P.R. is an imaging tool used for concrete and structure and subsurface earth exploration, and was recently used in an archeological survey carried out on the islands of Tutuila and Ofu, where 219 features were examined.

Dr. Joel Klenck led the survey, and he is the President and Principal Investigator of PRC, Inc., which is a cultural resource management, first focused on integrating new technologies, such as G.P.S. to rapidly locate archeological features. 

Dr. Joel is based in American Samoa and was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Samoa to carry out a presentation on the surveys, which his team carried out on the two islands using advanced technologies at the National University of Samoa on Friday.  

“Ground penetrating radar with lidar and other new technology is very exciting for Samoa because the more technology you have, the faster you can acquire or prevent the loss of historic properties or archeological sites,” Dr. Joel said. 

“This new technology (G.P.R.) is revolutionary in terms of the survey because it helps you identify where the features are, how deep the archeological features are, and where they are. How the features change over time. That is really important for survey work.” 

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Dr. Joel said this revolutionary technology allows Government and the business community carry out development, while ensuring the preservation of reserved properties.

“The survey has been going on since June this year, we did the survey initially and then you bring by the ground penetrating radar (G.P.R.) to look at the features below the ground.”

“It really helps in telling you where to put your excavation units. This can give you very fast view of what the profile is, so not only do you have the 2D analysis, but 3D – how deep the structure goes, at what point does it change, at what point does it alter.”

He said their work on the two islands was just the beginning, because there is still more to discover about Samoa’s archipelago. 

“Ofu was wonderful because we did so much work, and we’re looking at so many different types of features. So we are building a compendium, not only on what features look like on the surface, but also how features look like 3 meters or 2 meters under the soil,” Dr. Joel said. 

“Two things really pop up when you are using the technology, metal is very clear and the second thing that is very clear is void, any time of pipe etc.” 

He said rain was a major challenge when carrying out the survey, and they also encountered clay soil as they went further underground. 

During the survey, several hypotheses were tested including whether terraces on slopes provided platforms for fale foundations, examining prior notions based on size and presence of amu (coral).

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