I was recently invited on a short weekend field trip to participate and observe data collection using the RASI - Rock Art Stability Index at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. As explained on the RASI project website:
The Rock Art Stability Index is a tool that allows for the rapid assessment of the condition of a rock art site. It has been designed for use by college students, rock art volunteers and archaeologists, and only requires a minimum amount of training to conduct. Its purpose is to provide a replicable system to rank order various aspects of the observable physical condition of rock art sites, and to thereby score a site in terms of its current vulnerability.
This interdisciplinary team continues to test and revise the recording system that documents the conditions of the rocks and assessment for the potential loss of rock art due to weathering and erosion processes. The application of the RASI metrics has already proven to be significant for developing conservation and preservation strategies for archaeological resources in the Southwest. There is considerable potential for applying these metrics to other parks in the US, and other parts of the world with rock art.
The RASI component is part of a comprehensive program of rock art research developed by multi-institutional collaborators and tested in the American Southwest. Additional parts of the study include VML dating techniques and new geovisualization techniques of the rock art and RASI factors used to assess decay of panels.
Thanks to Dr. Nicole Cerveny and Dr. Casey Allen for inviting me along on their latest adventure.