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This report describes the results of the Friction Cone Penetrometer (FCP) project partially funded by the National Park Service’s (NPS) National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) with funds provided in 2013 and the NPS’s Southeastern Archeological Center (SEAC) with funds provided from 2013 to 2016. Using the NCPTT funds, SEAC entered into a Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit (CESU) agreement with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Florida State University (FSU) to develop the prototype FCP. In the end, FSU contributed an untold amount of additional funding in support of its students working on the project as they endeavored to fix problems beyond the timeline funded by NCPTT and SEAC.

Man holding up the Dynamic Cone Penetrometer

The Dynamic Cone Penetrometer Data Acquisition System by Vertex

Ultimately, FSU teams could not manufacture a workable prototype FCP due to mechanical problems whose corrections lay beyond the given time constraints and funding of the project. In December 2016, FSU returned all purchased equipment to SEAC and submitted their final report (Pace 2016; Appendix F) which described the problems with the final prototype, one of three prototypes FSU constructed. In the end, we conclude that the concept of distinguishing archeological soils from non-archeological soils by measuring differences between soil cohesion and soil resistance is theoretically sound. But taking proven large-scale hydraulic technology that measures these differences effectively down to a portable mechanical instrument was too problematic to produce a working prototype with a limited budget.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119