Underwater Archaeology

California’s extensive coastline and the beds of rivers, lakes, and bays throughout the west contain untold numbers of previously undocumented submerged archaeological sites. Highlighted by the persistence of droughts, there is an increasing awareness among State and Federal Agencies and the Office of Historic Preservation of the potential significance of these underwater and emerging cultural resources. Far Western has an experienced team of fully equipped, qualified professionals ready to assist in identifying and evaluating these unseen and underrepresented resources.


  • Certified scientific divers that exceed professional standards for archaeology as determined by the Secretary of Interior Standards.
  • Completed underwater surveys along the coast of San Diego, Orange, San Mateo, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, in San Francisco Bay, Sacramento River, Folsom Lake, and Lake Tahoe.
  • Experienced in documenting maritime cultural landscapes (e.g., doghole ports), shipwrecks (terrestrial and submerged contexts), and submerged precontact sites.
  • Skilled in imagery acquisition for photogrammetric processing to generate 3D models of terrestrial and submerged objects, sites, or landscapes.
  • Leaders in paleoenvironmental research which has contributed to a growing body of knowledge about climate change and landscape evolution during human occupation.


  • We conduct background research of known sites and submerged cultural resources in proximity of proposed projects and assess submerged site sensitivity.
  • We employ side-scan sonar and remote operated vehicles (ROV) to map underwater terrain and identify potential targets for further investigation.
  • Far Western divers conduct systematic surveys using methods that consider environmental conditions (e.g. currents, submerged terrain, visibility) and resource sensitivity.
  • The team documents submerged resources using techniques suitable to the environment since traditional terrestrial techniques cannot always be used. Collection of locational data, mapping a site, and photography are examples of recording methods that differ in underwater contexts.


Comments are closed.