In situ measurements of oxygen dynamics in unsaturated archaeological deposits

Henning Matthiesen, Jørgen Hollesen, Rory Dunlop, Anna Seither, Johannes de Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Oxygen is a key parameter in the degradation of archaeological material, but little is known of its dynamics in situ. In this study, 10 optical oxygen sensors placed in a 2 m deep test pit in the cultural deposits at Bryggen in Bergen have monitored oxygen concentrations every half hour for more than a year. It is shown that there is a significant spatial and temporal variation in the oxygen concentration, which is correlated to measured soil characteristics, precipitation, soil water content and degradation of organic material. In these deposits oxygen typically occurs when the air content of the soil exceeds 10–15% vol, while oxygen dissolved in infiltrating rainwater is of less importance for the supply of oxygen in the unsaturated zone.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1078-1094
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • oxygen
  • water content
  • monitoring
  • unsaturated zone
  • archaeological deposits
  • Bryggen in Bergen
  • in situ preservation

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