Decorrugation, edge detection, and modelling of total field magnetic observations from a historic town site, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Steven D. Sheriff, Douglas MacDonald, David Dick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cinnabar, Montana is a historic town site and railroad depot near the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park and was inhabited between 1883 and 1903. Remains of foundations and old photographs help determine the area of the town, but the south and east limits are unknown. We acquired total field magnetic intensity data to help determine the full extent of the town. Randomly distributed ferrous magnetic sources on the surface and typical noise associated with acquisition complicate the signal. To separate signal and noise we applied filtering and edge detection techniques common in the aeromagnetic industry to our data. Regional removal, decorrugation, upward continuation, and edge detection successfully separated signal and noise. Following filtering, we extracted two larger anomalies from the data set. For those two anomalies, we estimated the edges of their causative sources by calculating the maxima in the horizontal gradient of their anomalies and by inverse modelling those sources; both methods yield similar results. An archaeological test unit excavation within one of the anomalies clearly indicates the remains of buried domestic features, the foundation to a house or other building associated with the late nineteenth to early twentieth century use of Cinnabar. Thus the southeast extent of Cinnabar is greater than previously thought. The lack of surface indicators or adequate historic photography precluded the identification of this buried feature without the aid of the magnetic study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalArchaeological Prospection
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Decorrugation
  • Edge detection
  • Filtering
  • Magnetic

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