Reevaluating BOEM’s Guidelines for Identifying Submerged Pre-Contact Archaeological Sites in the Gulf of Mexico

Funding Agency:
Department of the Interior

Submerged pre-contact sites on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are difficult to identify and confirm using traditional mapping technologies and BOEM’s current survey guidelines.  BOEM errs on the side of caution by assigning avoidance mitigations to potential, but unconfirmed, paleolandscapes that may or may not contain preserved archaeological features.  This results in avoidance of areas that may not warrant exclusion from OCS activities across BOEM’s three program areas.  Additionally, the identification and preservation of submerged pre-contact cultural resources are frequently cited as priorities by Native American Tribes in BOEM’s government-to-government consultations.The objectives of this study are to: Develop updated and refined regional paleolandscape reconstructions to identify areas with a higher preservation potential for submerged pre-contact archaeological remains.Design, test the efficacy of, and compare results from revised survey methodologies conducted in geologically distinct areas of the GOM to recommend best practices to better detect and delineate preserved paleolandforms and assess their likelihood of containing archaeological materials.Recommend more effective methodologies and revisions to BOEM’s current survey guidelines for submerged paleolandscapes in the GOM Region.This study will assess the currently available data and known or potential locations for submerged pre-contact sites in the GOM and will compile a geospatial database including preservation potential (and lack of potential), estimated age of landforms, depth of burial, and other pertinent information.  This study will also conduct geophysical surveys and investigations of potential submerged archaeological features in geologically and environmentally distinct areas in the northern GOM for a comparative analysis of methodologies (at a minimum, areas in the eastern GOM and western GOM). 

Deadline: August 1, 2023

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants are Coastal State Governments and Public, State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education in the Gulf Coast and Piedmont-South Atlantic Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU). Cost-sharing/match is not required but is strongly encouraged.

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Arts & Humanities
Community Outreach and Engagement
Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

August 1, 2023