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Title: Identifying military impacts to archaeological resources based on differences in vertical stratification of soil properties

item GEBHART, D - Us Army Corp Of Engineers (USACE)
item Torbert, Henry - Allen
item HARGRAVE, M - Us Army Corp Of Engineers (USACE)
item PALAZZO, A - Us Army Corp Of Engineers (USACE)

Submitted to: Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium and Workshop
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2010
Publication Date: 11/30/2010
Citation: Gebhart, D., Torbert III, H.A., Hargrave, M., Palazzo, A. 2010. Identifying military impacts to archaeological resources based on differences in vertical stratification of soil properties [abstract]. Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium and Workshop. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The National Historic Preservation Act requires land-managing agencies to identify and account for their impacts on archaeological resources. Regulatory agencies that oversee compliance with historic preservation legislation frequently assume military training adversely affects archaeological resources. However, little research has been done to refute or support such assumptions. Consequently, the DoD must continue to avoid sites that may not be adversely impacted by military training. Research was initiated to quantify vertical stratification of soil compositional variables occurring at near-surface soil horizon interfaces. Differences in this stratification were used to identify potential impacts to archaeological deposits from military training. Five archaeological habitation areas at Fort Benning, GA, were selected and each subsequently sub-divided into four treatment groups based on level of training disturbance and proximity to archaeological site boundaries. The treatment groups consisted of archaeological and non-archaeological sites with and without disturbance. Within treatment groups, five soil cores were collected to a depth of 65-cm. Each core was sub-divided into 10-cm increments and processed for determinations of pH, Al, B, C, Ca, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Mo, N, Na, Ni, P, Pb, and Zn. Several variables exhibited excessive variation in vertical stratification and deemed unreliable. These included (1) C due to low levels of organic matter and past land use (timber harvesting, prescribed burning) and (2) pH, P, K, and N, due to random, undocumented lime and fertilizer applications associated with timber production. Several other variables, notably the extractable, low concentration elements such as Cu, Cr, Zn, and Pb, are bound tightly by organic matter and largely restricted to surface soils, but can be readily released and transported in acidic soil solution when physical disturbance to the surface soil exposes organic matter to increased mineralization rates. At several archaeological habitation areas, disturbed treatment groups had Pb and Zn concentrations 80-90% greater than those of undisturbed treatment groups for the 0-10 cm and 10-20 cm soil depth increments. Frequently, Cu and Cr concentrations were greater in the 10-20 cm and 20-30 cm depth increments for disturbed treatment groups indicating that military training disturbance had inverted or buried the upper soil profile when compared to undisturbed treatment groups. Since the solubility and transport of these elements can be related to soil pH and disturbance, they may be particularly useful, broadly applicable variables for estimating the potential for damage to archaeological resources resulting from military training at other military installations as well.