News Article

Archaeological Preservation

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:01

During seismic exploration, companies may discover geological patterns different to the hydrocarbon-based formations they are looking for. During one of the many seismic data acquisition projects carried out in the center of Chicontepec, Geokinetics stumbled upon an unforseen discovery: a polygon of 1,221 hectares worth of cultural heritage. Immediately after the discovery, made using aerial scanning surveys and 3D seismic, Geokinetics gave notice of its findings to the Mexican Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) and Pemex.

This unexpected turn of events led to the creation of a joint archaeological heritage program in the Tajin area, the main goal of which is to preserve the cultural heritage found there. Geokinetics and INAH, with Pemex’s help, continued to use new exploration technologies, such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), photogrammetry and thermography, to further investigate the area. As archaeological findings increased, both Geokinetics and Pemex ramped up their commitment to help INAH in its quest to preserve them. A joint operation managed by the three institutions, aimes to better gauge the importance, not only of the resources found in the hydrocarbon-rich area, but also of its cultural and archaeological value. Combining the efforts of both the public and private sector in the geophysical, hydrocarbon, and cultural domains, the archaeological heritage program in Chicontepec is unique in Latin America and has earned more than 27 awards, including a National Award for Best Research Project in the Country. INAH manages all of the upper surface exploration studies, while Geokinetics continues to research the geological subsurface. Exploration activity is still a priority, but whenever archaeological zones are encountered the INAH is brought in to study the area and approve the next steps in terms of the land use. When seismic techniques are found to be too invasive, different techniques are employed to preserve the cultural heritages of the paleochannel of Chicontepec. The archaeological heritage project that INAH, Pemex, and Geokinetics are executing demonstrates the importance of establishing multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary, scientific teams, and marks a lasting breakthrough for the Mexican geological landscape.