Office of Public Affairs
April 9, 2003
STUDENT'S QUEST PROJECT LOOKS UNDERNEATH OSWEGO'S FORT ONTARIO
OSWEGO -- What lies beneath a familiar landmark will be explored April 23 by SUNY Oswego student Christine Gleason during her Quest presentation, "Geophysical Archeology Study of Fort Ontario."
The senior anthropology major's talk will be one of more than 120 sessions during Quest, SUNY Oswego's annual celebration of learning and research. Her presentation is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. in Room 107 of Lanigan Hall. All Quest presentations are free and open to the public.
From late July into early August, Gleason conducted fieldwork at the eastside fort to peek under the surface without disturbing any dirt. She employed a device known as a magnetometer to grid anomalies in the magnetic field under the fort's surface. Gleason also took resistivity readings to measure electrical patterns under the soil.
Her goal was to develop an image of what was under the fort through aboveground scientific inquiry. She will present preliminary findings and the methods she used at Quest.
"This is my senior thesis work," Gleason said. "It isn't required for my program, but I wanted to get a feel for doing the work and the papers for when I go to graduate school."
When seeking a subject, the historic fort seemed an intriguing option, she said. "It was something that was close by and I knew it had a lot of history," she said. "But I didn't know that much about it, and I wanted to find out a bit more."
The whole process is an interdisciplinary exercise, she said, incorporating such fields as mathematics, physics, geology, history and archeology.
"I had about 1,500 data points, at least, and each one was a one-meter grid," she said. "You have to be careful. You have to take readings at one constant point so you know where your anomalies and fields are."
She used the magnetometer for about three days in the field for six to eight hours per day. The resistivity tests ran for about two weeks, but featured shorter days because of the heat, she said. The dry summer helped, she said, as rain affects the surveying process.
"You really have to be aware of the soil, the surrounding city and even what you're wearing," she said. Large physical features, like power lines, and even small things like wearing clothes with metal in them, carrying keys or toting a cell phone can disturb the magnetic field.
An additional step she plans to have completed by Quest is mapping through the use of modeling software. Used with the resistivity and magnetic readings, modeling can provide additional insight into objects under the surface. "You can plug in what a cannonball looks like and see if the trend matches the trend that's there," Gleason explained.
But even after all that, the process is still like gathering clues toward solving a mystery. "That's one thing about geophysics, you don't know for sure what's under there," she said. "You really have to dig to know for sure."
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