Archaeological Geophysics
Bill Johnson            

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An engineering geologist and geophysicist with more than 30 years of engineering and environmental consulting experience, Bill has been responsible for numerous geophysical investigations.  A member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists since 1967, and the former Chief Geophysicist at IT Corporation, he has specialized in shallow, high-resolution geophysical exploration as part of engineering and environmental projects throughout his career.  Typical projects include archaeological investigations, detecting buried tanks, mapping groundwater contaminant plumes, and defining the dynamic properties of a building foundation.  His experience extends to major research projects where he has been the Principal Investigator in developing the high resolution seismic reflection technique, 3D Ground Penetrating Radar, and applying geophysics to coal exploration and coal mine subsidence.  His geophysical experience also includes mineral exploration, where he conducted gravity, magnetic, DC resistivity, IP, SP, and EM techniques to map ore deposits.  Bill is currently at Rhea Engineers & Consultants, Inc.

In addition to archaeological geophysics, his experience with archaeological projects includes conducting audits of archaeological programs conducted during construction of the BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) pipeline, the Peru LNG pipeline, and others.

Projects include:

  • Rex East Pipeline, Ohio - Geophysical surveys at 3 sites in Ohio for the Rex East Pipeline.  Investigations were conducted with a Geometrics G-858 magnetometer and a Geonics EM38 ground conductivity meter.  The results of the investigation allowed the archaeologists to test the sites in locations most likely to be prehistoric features.

  • African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, Conestoga, PA - A ground penetrating radar survey was conducted at the African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery in Conestoga, PA to map  unmarked graves.  The cemetery was established in 1846 and the number of graves was uncertain.

  • Majestic Star Casino, Pittsburgh, PA - A site for a planned casino in Pittsburgh, PA was investigated with a Geonics EM61 metal detector.  The site was paved and used as a parking lot, but previously had been an industrial site.  The client needed to know where remains of the old buildings were in order to plan for construction of the new building.  The survey mapped building outlines, footing locations, RR tracks, and underground tanks.

  • Rivers Edge, Maryland - Planned development along the Potomac River south of Washington, DC were stalled until it could be determined if a slave cemetery was present somewhere on the 10-acre site.  Magnetometer, resistance and ground penetrating radar surveys were conducted over the entire site and several locations where graves might have been present were identified.  These locations were tested by archaeologists and although they found no graves, they found causes for all the targeted geophysical responses.

  • Barboursville, WV - Geophysical survey for an archaeological site in Barboursville, WV.  The work involved application of magnetic gradiometery, soil resistance measurements, GPR, and EM measurements.  The GPR work included 3D modeling.

  • Hill Historical Cemetery, Baden, PA - Geophysical survey to map historical graves and Revolutionary War structures at the Hill Historical Cemetery in Baden, PA.

  • Johnson's Island Confederate Stockade Cemetery, Ohio - Geophysical survey to delineate individual graves at Johnson's Island Confederate Stockade Cemetery, Sandusky Bay, lake Erie, Ohio.  Based on an interpretation of GPR profiling, a map of graves was prepared which showed that the gravestones had little relationship to the graves and there were many more graves than represented by headstones.  This solved a "mystery" as to the whereabouts of many Civil War Confederate officers.

  • McCully House Museum, Monroeville, PA - Site characterization of an early 19th century log house in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, with the mitigation involving the relocation and reconstruction of the structure at the McCully House Museum for the Monroeville Historical Society.  Mr. Johnson was designated an "Outstanding Citizen of 1995" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for this effort.