[OSGeo Africa] Use of remote-sensing technology to locate old burial sites ?

christopher legg christopher.legg at blueyonder.co.uk
Mon Jul 15 09:28:44 PDT 2013

A critical factor will be the land-use history of the site since burial.
If there has been occasional (or continuous) cultivation, this would be
a problem. If left undisturbed, then soil properties might well be
different from surroundings.

The cheapest option would be to try Landsat ETM imagery from two seasons
- end of rainy season and end of dry season. This would highlight
vegetation anomalies due to different water retention of soils. Spatial
resolution would be a problem, since the site might only occupy a few
pixels of Landsat imagery. Two similar dates of very high resolution
satellite imagery - IKONOS or better - a NIR band would be very good,
but expensive. You could check whether there is any HYperion imagery of
the area, this would be free but you would have to be very lucky. 

ASTER might show some anomalies due to soil disturbance - cheap but poor
spatial resolution, especially in the thermal which might be best
spectral option. Otherwise airborne scanners, which could be expensive
depending on what is already available in RSA.

Once you have some anomalies for follow-up from satellite imagery, then
ground geophysics - high resolution magnetics and/or ground penetrating
radar - would be very useful.

Hope that this helps,

Chris Legg

On Mon, 2013-07-15 at 15:26 +0200, Chris wrote:
> Dear Listees ,
>     I know that there are a lot of really clued up people on the list.
>     I am hoping someone can suggest / help / provide some insight into the 
>     following scenario.
>     Someone is trying to locate an historical site of mass burial ( about 180 
>     years ago ) The general area is known but the exact location of the mass 
>     burial site is lost. Apparently earlier writers who visited the scene 
>     describe a location based on vegetation ( the area has changed a lot over 
>     the years )
>     Is there any way using remote-sensing / any other form of geophysical 
>     technology / methodology to attempt a location discovery ?
>     I am guessing that the disturbed soil may have different properties that 
>     might be picked up by some form of specialised imageing --hyperspectral / 
>     multispectral  ( something else ? )
>     Would something like a Landsat 8 image be useable ? Or would the area 
>     have to be flown by an aerial borne sensor ?  The battle site is easily 
>     located but the mass burial site would obviously be smaller ( not sure of 
>     exact dimensions but probably something along the lines of half an 
>     olympic sized pool )
>     Finding the site would be of important historical significance.
>     Any and all suggestions welcomed
>     Thanks
>     CM
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