EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ground Penetrating Radar for the Detection of Vertebrate Fossils: An Example from the Ica Desert Fossil-Lagerstätte

Annalisa Ghezzi1,2, Antonio Schettino1, Alberto Collareta3, Claudio Nicola Di Celma1, Pietro Paolo Pierantoni1, and Luca Tassi1
Annalisa Ghezzi et al.
  • 1University of Camerino, School of Science & Technology, Geology, Camerino, Italy (
  • 2Istituto Tecnico Tecnologico Divini, San Severino Marche, Italy
  • 3Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy

The Ica Desert of southern Peru presents one of the most important marine Lagerstätten worldwide, characterized by excellent preservation and abundance of outcropping vertebrate fossils of whales, sharks, and dolphins. Even more fossils are potentially buried at shallow depth, which could be exposed by excavation and become the focus of new paleontological research. We investigated a small area at the top of Cerro Los Quesos, one of the most rich fossil-bearing localities in the Ica Desert, formed by sub-horizontal layers of diatomaceous sediments belonging to the Pisco Formation. Although most of these sediments are fine-grained, specific geochemical processes that occured in this area determined the formation of several beds of coarse cemented material, populated by large dolomitic nodules and underlain by two characteristic layers: a black manganese oxyde lamina and a thin reddish dolomite enriched in iron oxyde. Most of the fossils outcropping in the Ica Desert appear to be incapsulated in large dolomitic nodules, which can also be detected at shallow depth by ground penetrating radar (GPR) techniques. Here we describe an approach that can be used to identify the presence of fossils using a GPR system, which requires a detailed analysis of radar profiles and traces. In particular, it is shown that a sequence of distinctive reflected wavelets characterizes the bottom of the dolomitic nodules that wrap the skeletons

How to cite: Ghezzi, A., Schettino, A., Collareta, A., Di Celma, C. N., Pierantoni, P. P., and Tassi, L.: Ground Penetrating Radar for the Detection of Vertebrate Fossils: An Example from the Ica Desert Fossil-Lagerstätte, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10974,, 2023.