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IUP Archaeologists Investigate KCAC Parking Lots with NSF-Funded Ground Penetrating Radar Unit

During the week of May 12, 2013, Beverly Chiarulli from the IUP Anthropology Department and Alex Novo from IDS Stream used a new ground penetrating radar unit to investigate the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex (KCAC) parking lots during a week of training to test the instrument. 

IDS​ Stream ready for KCAC survey (Bev Chiarulli and GPS in background)
IDS​ Stream ready for KCAC survey (Bev Chiarulli and GPS in background)

Chiarulli and co-PIs Ben Ford, Sarah Neusius, and Phil Neusius from the Anthropology Department and Scott Moore from the History Department were awarded funding in September 2012 through a NSF Major Instrumentation award to purchase the IDS Stream X and other instruments for geospatial and geophysical research.

Alex Novo and the IDS Stream​
Alex Novo and the IDS Stream​

The IDS Stream X is one of a new generation of GPR units that are available for archaeological investigations in the United States. Because of the NSF funding, IUP is one of the first universities to have one available for faculty and student research. The advantage of a multiple array GPR is that the instrument collects much more data than single antenna units in the same amount of time, providing much greater resolution of subsurface features. The multiple lines of data are acquired simultaneously as the array moves along the surface. Channels within the array are closely spaced, allowing a dense grid of sample points to be created combining full-resolution data acquisition with a robust integration of navigation and centimeter-accurate positioning.

Example of Stream data from the KCAC​
Example of Stream data from the KCAC​

During the week of training, the Stream was tested on the KCAC parking lot. Prior to the construction of the building, Chiarulli and IUP Archaeological Services were contracted by the Indiana County Planning Department to conduct an archaeological and geomorphological survey of the area. This part of campus, including the site of the Eberly College of Business, were the location of 19th-century buildings many associated with the Indiana Glassworks. While most signs of this past history are lost, fragments of glass occasionally are found in the fields adjacent to the football stadium. Because of this past experience with this part of campus, it seemed to be an ideal location for the IDS test.

IDS Stream data after processing showing possible wall alignments​
IDS Stream data after processing showing possible wall alignments

The Stream X is pulled by a vehicle and is able to track its survey path with an advanced GPS unit. The Trimble R7 GNSS unit, also a newly added instrument to the Anthropology Department, was used with the Stream. The Trimble R7 GNSS is a multichannel, multifrequency GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver and UHF radio combined in a single unit. Novo from IDS Stream in Montreal came to IUP to set up and test the instrument.

So what is under the KCAC parking lot? While the data is still under analysis, several rectangular features which might be the locations of structures were identified in the processed data. It remains to be seen what additional surveys might show, but the Stream demonstrated its speed and versatility through the investigation of an area covering 5,000 square meters in less than two hours with radar coverage in each two-meter swath, with 15 antennas collecting data at 12-centimeter intervals.

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