Multi-Coil FD-EMI in Tidal Flat Areas: Prospection and Ground Truthing at a 17th Century Wooden Ship Wreckage


Dr. Daniel Zwick

30 Mar 2022

Authors: Dennis Wilken, Daniel Zwick, Bente Sven Majchczack , Ruth Blankenfeldt, Ercan Erkul, Simon Fischer and Dirk Bienen-Scholt

Abstract: We present a case study of multi-coil frequency-domain electromagnetic (FD-EMI) prospection of a wooden ship wreckage from the 17th century. The wreckage is buried in a sandbar in the German part of the tidal flat area of the North Sea. Furthermore, the wreckage was excavated in advance and covered again after investigation. This ground truthing background and the position of the wreckage makes it a unique investigation object to test the feasibility of FD-EMI for prospecting wooden archaeological objects in the high conductive sediments of tidal flat areas. Our results reveal the shape and position of the wreckage in terms of conductivity maps. The resulting signal change caused by the wreckage in conductivity is only 10% of the value of the water-saturated sandy background, respectively, making a cautious process necessary, including a precise height correction. The data, furthermore, reveals a sensitivity to the vertical shape of the wreckage and thus sufficient depth sensitivity, but with reduced sensing depth. The study highlights the great potential of EMI for both in situ heritage management and archaeological research in the Wadden Sea.