Marine Geophysics Data Acquisition, Processing and Interpretation

Guidance Notes

By Ruth Plets, Justin Dix, Richard Bates

These guidelines are part of the ALSF's dissemination of heritage information, which is managed by English Heritage. Previously the ALSF has funded studies of the potential and applicability of geophysical techniques for maritime archaeology, to provide basic information for and characterisation of wreck sites and submerged prehistoric landscapes.

In preparing these guidelines we have assessed several projects:

  • Seabed in Prehistory: Gauging the Effects of Marine Dredging undertaken by Wessex Archaeology (2008), which ultimately comprises four ALSF projects, 3876, 4600, 5401 and 5684, and the project archive comprises eight individual project reports;
  • Wrecks on the Seabed/Multibeam Sonar by Wessex Archaeology (2007), which is again an amalgamation of three ALSF projects, 3324, 3594 and 3877;
  • Innovative Approaches to Rapid Archaeological Site Surveying and Evaluation, Bates et al (2007) (ALSF project 3837);
  • and High Resolution Sonar for the Archaeological Investigation of Marine Aggregate Deposits, Dix et al (2006) (ALSF project 3364).

We have also consulted the English Heritage-funded Historic Environments project Developing Magnetometer Techniques to Identify Submerged Archaeological Sites by Cornwall Council (Camidge et al 2010) and the English Heritage publication Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation (2008).

The conclusions of these projects, existing guidelines from archaeological and industrial sources and from other ma-rine disciplines, and personal experience help provide guidance notes for a wide range of users.


  • List of acronyms
  • Part I Standards for geophysical survey
    1 Legislation, existing standards and guidance
    2 Geophysics and maritime archaeology
    3 General guidance
  • Part II Planning and reporting for a marine archaeo-geophysical survey
    4 Archaeology and planning
    5 MoRPHE - a project's life cycle
  • Part III Practitioner's guide - techniques and geophysical instrumentation
    6 Application of techniques
    7 Processing and analysis of geophysical data
  • References and further reading
    Contacts and useful addresses

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Product Code: 51811


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