Center for Big Bend Studies receives grant to analyze adobe at Fort Davis National Historic Site

The Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University has been awarded a grant for $12,500 from  the Cooperative Research and Training Programs of the National Park System, Department of the  Interior. 

David W. Keller, a senior project archaeologist with CBBS, wrote the proposal to “source, sample,  analyze and test historic adobes and local clay rich soils for use in projects at Fort Davis National Historic  Site.” 

The grant will fund the project in three phases. First, a range of samples will be collected and field tested  or sent to a lab for analysis of grain size and mineral makeup. Second, adobe bricks will be made and  tested for strength and durability, and then used to create plaster swatches which will be examined for  adhesion, cracking and abrasion resistance. Third, the best batches will be utilized for experiments,  including jet tests to determine erosion resistance. 

“By employing a rigorous methodology, detailed record keeping and fully reporting on results, it is  hoped that this project can guide maintenance for years to come, and possibly assist other national  parks in their own earthen historic preservation programs,” Keller wrote in the proposal. 

He said he expects to start the testing phase in about a month. While Keller said the project extends  through February 2023, he believes it will be complete by the end of this year. 

For more information contact the Center for Big Bend Studies, 432-837-8179 or visit 

Photo: Archaeologist David Keller (pictured) worked on a similar adobe testing project at the Alvino  house in Big Bend National Park in 2021. 


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