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Radar probes Port Angeles for underground artifacts

Karl Wegman, assistant professor of geology at North Carolina State University, uses a ground-penetrating radar unit to map the geologic profile of the land beneath the roadway on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, Wash., on Tuesday.  (Associated Press)
Karl Wegman, assistant professor of geology at North Carolina State University, uses a ground-penetrating radar unit to map the geologic profile of the land beneath the roadway on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, Wash., on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

Klallam tribal members lived along waterfront

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – A 10-day study of portions of the waterfront will help map the original shoreline of Port Angeles and help archaeologists make educated guesses about the location of early Native American settlements.

Karl Wegman, assistant professor of geology at North Carolina State University, is taking measurements through Monday along the Port Angeles waterfront from Dry Creek on the west to Morse Creek on the east.

Wegman is working with Statistical Research Inc., which has an office in Lacey, Wash.

The Port Angeles City Council approved a $79,835 contract with the company in January.

The measurements are being taken on property owned by the city, the Port of Port Angeles and private property owners who have given permission.

The results of the work will be added to the Port Angeles Archaeological Management Plan and Shoreline Management Plan.

“The results will be used to create a predictive model,” said Derek Beery, city archaeologist.

Beery and Wegman both said the model could be used to determine both the stability of the land, in light of construction, as well as where artifacts might lie.

Klallam tribal members once lived along the Port Angeles waterfront.

Wegman is using a ground-penetrating radar machine to gather information about the geology beneath the surface of the shoreline.

He also employs a machine that exerts an electrical shock into the ground to measure density.

“We could never with this kind of equipment actually see artifacts,” Wegman said.

“But based on where the original shoreline was and what areas were above the high tide, an archaeologist would be able to make an educated inference on where artifacts might be.”

To fund the work, the city of Port Angeles used money from $7.5 million in settlement money that the state of Washington paid it when artifacts from the Tse-whit-zen village were discovered in August 2003 during construction of a state Department of Transportation’s graving yard project.

The discovery halted the project.

Wegman said his team will take the data back to North Carolina and analyze it, creating 3-D models of the soils and geology along the waterfront.

The four goals for the project are to determine the history of when fill was added to the waterfront, create new survey data for the waterfront, define the thickness of the fill and characterize any landforms that are buried by the fill.

Landforms could include things such as deltas along Tumwater or Ennis creeks, Wegman said.

Although the team was hoping to map on the shoreline property owned by Rayonier Inc. on the east side of town, the city has not obtained permission to work on the company’s 75 acres, Wegman said.

“We hope that will be part of it before we leave,” he said.



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