Geoscientists without Borders (GWB) awards its first ever project in USA

Geoscientists without Borders announced a special call for applications in 2023 to better support local communities in the greater Houston area. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) leadership and Board initiated this call upon identifying the need for people interested in supporting GWB and to experience first-hand the positive impact these projects make on local communities. Project Leads (PIs) working actively with local community representatives and government agencies were invited to apply for one of GWB’s funding themes like Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), habitat management, pollution abatement, and cultural/archaeological preservation. GWB’s newly created Technical Review Sub-Committee (TRSC) selected a project titled ‘Dignity in depth: Geophysical search for unmarked burials in historic African American cemeteries’ in December 2023.

Dignity in Depth’s project team under Robert R Stewart’s (University of Houston) leadership will apply near-surface geophysical methods for locating unmarked burials to assist in refurbishing historic African American cemeteries in the Houston area. This work is profoundly important on social, historical, and spiritual grounds to preserve the dignity of these sacred places, especially those in disrepair. The team is currently working with two historic cemeteries (Conroe Community Cemetery and Evergreen Negro cemetery). By integrating drone, radar, and metal detection data along with cultural indicators, they will locate burials for commemoration as well as outline development areas that do not show evidence of burials over the next two years. The educational benefits of involving students in such projects, will instill a sense of purpose and demonstrate geosciences’ diverse applications.

Seeing the importance of this project and the ongoing need of such initiatives, GWB called for another special calls for proposals for Houston area in early 2024. With SEG’s support, GWB program continuous its effort to highlight applied geosciences’ importance in solving the communities’ challenges e.g. bringing attention to cultural and historic landmarks in Houston area. As we navigate the complexities of modern urban development and the preservation of sacred sites, this recently awarded project will illuminate the critical role geoscientists can play in humanitarian efforts, importance of community engagement, and profound connections we forge with our history.

This project addresses SDG4 (quality education), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 17 (partnership for goals). To learn more about UNSDGs, click here.

To learn more about this project and support our efforts, listen to SEG’s Seismic Soundoff podcast’s latest episode and visit GWB’s website.