05 December 2014

NSGG Conference 2014

The time came once again to attend the Near Surface Geophysics Group conference, which is held every two years, the last being in 2012. As always, the chats in between lectures were the best bit. My ego was thoroughly strokes by three people coming up to me out of the blue and complimenting me on Snuffler. It's a wonder I got my head out of the door at the end of the day. I also spoke at length to Erica Utsi to enquire about attaching my forthcoming purchase of survey grade GNSS to my GPR.

The talks were many and varied. There were 12 of them! My favourites were :

Kris Lockyear talked about getting community archaeology groups involved in geophysics and some of the results they had. The survey of part of Verulamium. A grant bought a fancy mag cart, which seem to be everywhere these days, which the various groups share, with training days on how to use it. This sort of work is excellent for getting smaller groups who otherwise would not have access to geophysics. They have an excellent blog.

The talk I was most looking forward to was Armin Schmidt (of course) talking about inversion modelling for magnetometry. It seems the subject is a lot more subjective than I imagined, with various models of 3D interpretation potentially fitting the 2D data. I asked where I could find out more about how this was done, as I was thinking of incorporating this into Snuffler. The ripple of laughter that went around the room suggests that this is a black art best left to the damned.

Pope-Carter (I think) spoke about some open source software for geophysics being developed in python by students at Bradford called ArchaeoPY. It was explained that a lot of the work of writing display stuff was already done and available in easy to use python libraries. A lot of the functions already available in the software were shown. The whole thing is impressive and has a lot of potential. Being open source, if there is a feature you think is missing, you can go ahead and add it yourself!

There were two interesting talks from overseas. Someone from Italy talked about the sites found there, including GPR over a proper Roman road with kerbstones and all, which was very nice to see. I do like a bit of Roman. Someone from Canada produced some actually really good plots using EM of buildings, probably because the remains were shallow. Perhaps EM isn't so bad after all, or maybe you just have to do it at the insane resolution that they did. Both speakers lamented the lack of understanding of geophysics there by the relevant cultural authorities.

More Roman from the Canterbury Hinterland Project, both close to me and Roman, my favourite. It is run by institutions outside of Kent, since no-one in Kent seems to do geophysics. Some of the buildings they found using high res radar were quite impressive, and odd looking. There was also an interesting attempt to clean up the rather messy GPR data, using a different method than Armin suggested two years ago. I think this was my favourite talk of the day.

Then, of course, there was the usual posters, many more this time around. The judging was by popular vote rather than the usual panel, so I'm wondering if it will end up a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest with everyone voting for their mates. I certainly did :)

Hardware wise, mag seems to be heading for multi-sensor carts, some of which were evident in the talks, posters and commercial exhibitors. The greater speed and resolution can only be a good thing. I just don't understand how people afford these things.

All in all, another good year.

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