JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Every crumbled and cracked head stone is a key to Jacksonville's history. But the markers at Old St Joseph Cemetery leave more questions than answers.
"When cemeteries are not in use anymore they tend to degrade," said Dr. Gordon Rakita.
Now students from the University of North Florida are hoping to get to the bottom of some of those questions without ever picking up a shovel. "Some of that information is being lost as the stones degrade," said Dr. Rakita.
Row by row they are using underground radars to find missing graves. Signals are sent underground, sending back images of what's buried underneath.
"We are trying to see if there are any unmarked burials in some of the blank spaces of the graveyard," said Dr. Rakita.
"It's pretty cool," said student, Carlos Valezques.
City records show at least 800 people were buried here, but there are only about 200 markers. Historians believe dozens of them may have died becasue of yellow fever.
"That was such a huge epidemic that there was not time for individual burials. So we are hoping to see if there were mass burials during that time," said Jo Ann Orren with Friends of Old St Joseph.
It's a mystery you won't find in the history books yet. But these students could change that one digital signal at a time. They hope to have the results from Friday's mapping in about a week.