Marine Archaeology


Development projects aren't limited to dry land.  Cultural resource laws don't stop at the shoreline either.  From simple file searches to towed magnetometer and side scan sonar surveys or other specialized investigations, AmaTerra can identify and attend to marine cultural resources when they are found under the waves.

File Search and Coordination

Inshore and Near-Shore Field Survey

AmaTerra can assist project managers in determining a development tract's potential archaeological significance and effectively navigate your project through Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and Section 106 processes.

AmaTerra's in-house nautical archaeologist can work with you to develop a marine survey plan, guide the field effort, and coordinate the findings on your behalf.  Let us assist you with general due diligence and regulatory compliance survey needs as well.

Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology

AmaTerra's marine archaeology staff have extensive experience in investigating terrestrial prehistoric archaeological sites. Combined with our marine expertise, AmaTerra can effectively negotiate the challenges of submerged prehistoric resources and keep your project plans moving.


AmaTerra is one of the few Texas-based environmental consulting firms that offers marine archaeology services.  Our nautical archaeological staff have responded to survey and monitoring projects along the Texas coast and farther inland, working on the Red River in Oklahoma and along the San Marcos River in Texas.

Preparing vessel for survey of Red River bridge expansion in Oklahoma.

Marine archaeology is a specialized service offered here at AmaTerra.  We are full of enthusiasm at every opportunity to go out and get on - or under - the water. Here are two examples of our marine and nautical archaeology work:


Surveyors Inspect Equipment Readings
US 259 Survey Area
Backhoe Trenching on the Shoreline
Mag and SS Sonar Survey Underway
US Highway 259 Bridge Survey

AmaTerra staff archaeologists and our subcontracting partners conducted towed magnetometer and side-scan sonar survey of a proposed expansion footprint of the US 259 Bridge across the Red River for NHPA and ACT compliance.  Our survey wasn't limited to marine resources.  AmaTerra crews also conducted terrestrial archaeology investigations as well.

The Edwards Aquifer Authority relied on AmaTerra's submerged prehistoric archaeology expertise as a component of a larger Habitat Conservation Plan in both the San Marcos and Comal Rivers.  AmaTerra assessed the potiential for proposed streambed improvements to impact significant archaeological sites in the San Marcos River.  AmaTerra drove steel pipes into the channel walls, collecting intact soil columns in the process. To supplement our analysis, AmaTerra received geomorphological interpretation on the soil columns from Texas State University archaeologists. AmaTerra  determined through this effort that no significant resources were likely to be impacted.


Marine Coring Equipment
EAA SanMarcosUnderwaterCoring
San Marcos River Survey Crew
Driving column sample in San Marcos
AmaTerra’s HCP survey crew
Client: Edwards Aquifer Authority
Location: San Marcos River, Hays County, Texas
Take Away: Intensive submerged prehistoric archaeological survey through channel coring and analysis.
Client: Texas Department of Transportation
Location: Bowie County, Texas and McCurtain County, Oklahoma
Take Away: Combination Marine and Terrestrial Archaeology Survey in Red River
San Marcos River Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)


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© 2017 by AmaTerra Environmental, Inc.

Driving column sample in San Marcos

Driving column sample in San Marcos River shallows. Many of the samples did not require scuba equipment to collect. Here, a column sample (the first driven in the project) was driven into the riverbed in roughly 18 inches (48 centimeters) of water.