• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Assessing Boston Harbor Islands Resources Using Ground Penetrating Radar

Allen M. Gontz
Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences
University of Massachusetts - Boston
100 Morrisey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
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Delivered at the 2011 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium


The Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area hosts resources of various different types, including cultural, natural, economic, ecological, and biological. Understanding how these resources are impacted by park visitation, natural processes, and anthropogenic alteration is of utmost importance with respect to developing a plan to manage these resources. With respect to natural and cultural resources, non-invasive geophysical techniques such as ground penetrating radar, magnetics, electrical resistivity, sidescan sonar, and marine seismic can reveal detailed information about the resource and processes affecting the site. This presentation coveres several aspects of non-invasive approaches, including assessing the vulnerability of the Rainsford Island Cemetery Site to coastal erosion and sea-level rise; the potential for submerged cultural resources along the south coast of Thompson Island; and a brief discussion of shipwrecks adjacent to the islands.

Did You Know?

Graves Light

On September 1, 1905, Elliot Hadley lit the most powerful light in Massachusetts at the top of Graves Lighthouse, now in Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. The first-order Fresnel lens aided in navigation and allowed for safe passage into Boston Harbor. More...