How to Map Unmarked Graves in Cemeteries
Have the Graves in Your Cemetery Located by a Nationally Recognized Expert with over 20 Years of Experience
Some cemeteries are hundreds of years old and unmarked graves can be common. Misplaced or poorly located headstones or markers can further complicate matters.
Records are often vague, lost, destroyed, or incomplete and there may be questions about the precise extent of a cemetery. There is often no surface expression of the burial location and graves become lost or missing.
Due to the sensitivity of these sites, the challenge is to explore the subsurface without disturbing the soil and burials. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is the only viable non-destructive method used for grave detection.
For some small cemeteries, GeoModel, Inc. may plot the locations of the detected graves on a map. For larger cemeteries, a local land surveyor would need to be hired to plot the grave locations on a map. GeoModel, Inc. professionals are experts in using GPR to locate graves, and a land surveyor specializes in mapping large areas of graves.
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) cemetery surveys are non-intrusive and ideal for locating cemeteries and for unmarked grave detection. GeoModel uses GPR to detect a number of features that help identify a grave, including:
- The coffin or casket (wood, metal, lead lined, etc) or vault
- Disturbed ground structure and excavation features
- Movement or voids caused by collapse of the coffin or casket
Recently, GeoModel, Inc. carried out a grave detection scan at the Gallatin City Cemetery in Gallatin, Tennessee, to locate lost graves. The survey was conducted in the older slave section to locate unmarked graves in order to identify and accurately mark the locations of each grave on the ground surface.
Hundreds of lost graves were detected in the 4-acre area that dates back to the 1800’s. The link to a video on NewsChannel5 is below, and an article in the Tennessean newspaper is further below.
A GeoModel, Inc. cemetery survey or grave detection scan is conducted by an experienced Licensed Professional with over 20 years of grave mapping experience.
This professional is nationally recognized and has been in many newspapers nationwide (See articles below), and has been interviewed by Greta Van Susteren about using GPR to locate unmarked graves:
How Accurate is Ground Penetrating Radar to Detect an Unmarked Grave for Cemetery Scanning?
Recent interments (1 to 50 years old) generally produce very distinct grave anomalies in the GPR profile and are most easily detected. Older graves (50 to 200 years old or more) produce less distinct or minimal anomalies and are more difficult to detect.
Remains of burials are easier to locate in sandy soils that do not contain tree roots or rocks.
In cases where a vault or casket does not exist, or where the casket has completely deteriorated, the trained eye of the GeoModel, Inc. professional can examine the GPR data for disturbed soil, grave trenches, or other indications of the burial.
Many cemeteries have unmarked gravesites, lost graves, old burials, and more recent burials, as shown in the ground penetrating radar image above from the historic Arlington Cemetery.
GeoModel, Inc. Grave Expert Also Uses Ground Forensics to Locate Graves
GeoModel, Inc. has a grave expert with over 20 years of grave detecting experience. He uses ground forensic evidence, in addition to ground penetrating radar (GPR), to locate unmarked graves. Below is an example of using ground forensics to locate unmarked graves.
GeoModel, Inc. Grave Expert Identifies and Interprets Headstones and Footstones
The GeoModel, Inc. grave expert is able to look at the stones and markers in a cemetery and identify which ones are headstones, footstones, and family stones or monuments. Sometimes the family stone is the only headstone. Below is an example of a family headstone with footstones to mark each individual grave.
GeoModel, Inc. News Articles Pertaining to Grave Locating and Cemetery Mapping
GeoModel, Inc. has conducted numerous unmarked grave detection and cemetery scans that have significant interest to the local community, foundations, or government agencies.
Below are a few of the lost grave locating articles.
GeoModel, Inc. conducted a survey for the South Lake Tahoe section of the DAR organization to locate unmarked graves at the old Al Tahoe Pioneer Cemetery in South Lake Tahoe, California. A photo of the field crew is shown below, including Matt Turner, the GeoModel, Inc. professional GPR grave locator:
Matt Turner of GeoModel, Inc. conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey for the Historic Stanton Family Cemetery in Buckingham County, Virginia. To read the entire News article, click here.
A recent GeoModel, Inc. cemetery survey to locate unmarked or lost graves was featured in the Inside Nova newspaper on-line. The article is shown below:
Another grave location article is featured in our geomodel.com/news section, and is also included below:
GeoModel, Inc. recently conducted a ground penetrating radar survey to locate unmarked, missing graves at the Waterford Cemetery in Waterford, Virginia. The lost grave locating survey was featured on the Waterford Union of Churches Cemetery website: