Geoarchaeological adventures across the US part 1: Pensacola, Florida

Degraded brickwork at Fort Pickens, Pensacola
Limited blogging from me over the past couple of weeks, due to a lack of internet rather than a lack of activity. In fact I've been incredibly busy with archaeologically and geologically themed adventures, travelling from Pensacola (Florida) to Powell Butte (Oregon) via Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Idaho. A 5 day drive across a major chunk of the US, it's been amazing to see the changes in the landscape, geology and climate, some of them gradual and some more dramatic. One thing that is particularly interesting from a geoarchaeological perspective is the difference in preservation of different sites that we've visited, related to the local environment.

Salt stalactites

Here for example we have Fort Pickens, a historic monument that was contructed in 1829, completed in 1834, and remained in use until 1947. Despite being quite recent in archaeological terms, much of the brickwork has started to degrade and/or has been buried by sand. The fort is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore park and is located on Santa Rosa Island, a huge barrier island 30 miles east of the Alabama border. The level of salt crystalisation from sea water washing through the brickwork is impressive, and I imagine it's a bit of a nightmare from a conservation perspective.

This contrasts significantly with another brick heavy site we visited - Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico. Pueblo Bonito is part of the Chaco Culture World Heritage Site. Chaco dates from 850AD and the preservation is just amazing, though there is still a degree of weathering going on at the site, related to salt crystalisation of a different sort. More on Chaco coming soon.