Innovation: Practice site for treasure hunters

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PIRATES looking for buried treasure can now test their 'X marks the spot' techniques at Leicester University.

A buried targets site, said to be the only one in the country, has been set up as a training and testing ground for companies that need to locate items underground.

The 2,800m site contains objects buried up to 3m deep, including chemical drums, pipes, foundations and voids, which must be surveyed by construction companies, archaeologists or surveyors. The targets are buried at various depths and orientations, and the whole site is mapped, allowing surveyors to measure accuracy and reliability of readings from the items.

'The site will be open to anyone for training and equipment evaluation purposes,' said Ian Hill, senior lecturer in geophysics. 'We expect it to become a recognised standard for testing, calibration and training of geophysical methods used in surveys of environmental hazards and derelict land.'

Companies will be charged pounds 100 per day to use the site. The sort of practical problems that can be solved include locating old cellars, mines, plastic pipes and waste tips. The site will also be used by archaeologists to test techniques for locating ancient walls and ditches.

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