PATTERSON — A geophysicist hired to find evidence of pioneer graves at a proposed Crows Landing industrial park laid out the tools and methods of his trade Tuesday night before about a dozen people at City Hall.
"I view these projects as puzzles," Brian Damiata told his audience, which included members of three West Side historical societies. "We get information from a variety of sources."
Damiata, who has identified graves around the world, released his report last week stating he was not able to find the graves dating to the 1870s.
Road building, farming or burying utility lines likely destroyed part or all of the reported cemetery decades ago, according to the report. But Damiata left open the possibility that the cemetery could be at a half-acre site his team did not search.
That site borders Bell Road. Developer Gerry Kamilos said if the road is widened for the industrial park, a pre-construction investigation will take place, which could uncover evidence of a cemetery.
Damiata's crew searched three spots picked by local historical societies as likely candidates for the reported cemetery at the former Crows Landing Air Facility. Kamilos wants to build a 4,800-acre industrial complex there, though Patterson is fighting the project in court.
Kamilos, who paid nearly $30,000 for the investigation, said he plans to work with West Side historical societies and incorporate the report's findings in the project through such means as interpretative signage.
"We need to include the rich history of the Crows Landing area into this project," he said.
Damiata used ground-penetrating radar and gradient magnetic and electromagnetic surveys to look for evidence of the cemetery that might have contained six to 20 graves.
The work produced mounds of data. Damiata said a ground-penetrating radar of one of the sites, which measured 40 feet by 100 feet, produced 3.4 miles of data.
He also compiled information for his investigation through interviews, old newspaper articles, books, old maps and photographs.
Damiata said the fourth site that could be the site for the cemetery is not a good candidate for a geophysical survey because of ground disturbance from deep plowing.
He said targeted excavation using a backhoe would be the most practical way to search for graves.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.