Vibracore Sediment Sampling

Advanced Geological Training

Geological Consulting



 Walter J. Sexton, Ph.D., P.G.

Company Founder / Senior Consulting Scientist

 Walter Sexton

Dr. Sexton founded Athena Technologies, Inc. in 1987.  His areas of expertise include marine sedimentation, pre-dredge environmental and geotechnical studies, modern stratigraphic studies, groundwater contamination assessment, coastal geomorphology, mineral exploration, shoreline erosion, oil spill response and contingency planning, and coastal mapping.  Dr. Sexton has extensive experience studying marine sedimentation and performing pre-dredge environmental studies.  He has conducted groundwater investigations evaluating contaminant concentrations for metals, PCBs, creosote, hydrocarbons and radionuclides.  He has conducted research and managed projects associated with oil spill mapping and assessment, three-dimensional geologic modeling of modern sediments, and sand source evaluations for beach nourishment.  He has also conducted numerous mineral surveys to evaluate the economic value of sand and gravel, coquina, heavy minerals, limestone, and peat resources.  Over the course of his career, Dr. Sexton has conducted research in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Canada, and throughout the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii).


Over the past 30 years, Dr. Sexton has led, or co-led, over 250 field courses for geoscientists from both industry and academia.  Dr. Sexton’s most renowned field course is the week-long Modern Clastic Depositional Environments course, which focuses on the depositional processes associated with fluvial, deltaic, shoreface, and estuarine settings along the South Carolina coastline.


Dr. Sexton stepped down as company president in 2017, but he continues to teach Athena’s Modern Clastic Depositional Environments field seminar and routinely provides geological oversight of Athena’s projects, by serving as a senior reviewer of data reports.


L. Palmer McClellan

President / Project Manager


Palmer McClellan joined Athena in 1998 and quickly became integral to providing high quality services to our clients.  Mr. McClellan is a U.S. Coast Guard-certified, 100-ton Master Captain and serves as Athena’s most senior field team leader on nearly every project.  Mr. McClellan also designs and oversees fabrication of our custom equipment and vessels, which allows for a high level of operational efficiency during field events.  Mr. McClellan has led geotechnical and environmental vibracore sampling projects in inshore and offshore environments ranging from New York to Texas, and the Caribbean.  Before starting his career at Athena, Mr. McClellan worked for 15 years in the commercial fishing and shrimping industries, which gives him unique and sharp insights with regards to safe vessel operation in various dynamic marine settings.


Mr. McClellan’s ingenuity and extensive experience working in a range of marine environments has allowed us to expand our capabilities, improve our sampling equipment, and refine our sample collection methodology to better serve our clients.


J. Adam Freeze

Vice President / Geologist


Mr. Freeze joined Athena as a geologist in 2009.  Since coming aboard, Mr. Freeze’s role at Athena has evolved from a purely scientific role to a broader role which now includes managing federal and private sediment sampling projects with contract values ranging from less than $20,000 to over $375,000; directing and coordinating field crews (which are often comprised of both Athena employees and external clients); ensuring compliance with project-specific health and safety requirements; conducting quality assurance reviews of deliverables (e.g., reports, cost proposals, etc.); and geological data evaluation and reporting.  Additionally, Mr. Freeze has exhibited proficiency with regards to the operation of field equipment and electronics.


Mr. Freeze also plays a key role in coordinating, facilitating, and co-leading Athena’s Modern Clastic Depositional Environments field seminar.  The field course, which draws international and domestic professional geoscientists, presents modern analogues to ancient oil and gas reservoirs.  During the course, the following geomorphological/depositional environments are visited and discussed: fluvial/floodplain, mixed-energy deltaic, barrier island and back-barrier, cuspate foreland, and estuarine.  Mr. Freeze’s role during the field course requires an in-depth understanding of coastal and fluvial processes, and the factors that can affect sedimentation in various environments.


J. Neil Wicker

Director of Business Development / Technology Manager

 J. Neil Wicker

Mr. Wicker served in the U.S. Navy prior to joining Athena 1997 and is truly Athena’s “jack-of-all-trades”.  Since joining Athena over 20 years ago, he has gained valuable experience during field vibracoring operations and has been indispensable during subsequent data management and reporting.  He is responsible for developing cost proposals, contracting, IT management, and business development.  Mr. Wicker also procures and maintains all of Athena’s field navigation equipment and is fluent in the operation of Differential Global Positioning Systems, fathometers, Real-Time Kinematic/Global Navigation Satellite Systems, and dual-frequency transducers, and the interfacing of these units into HYPACK Survey.  He is knowledgeable in the use of GIS software systems and manipulating satellite and aerial photography for use in both commercial reports and ongoing coastal studies at Athena.  He assists in preparing data reports and has been instrumental in designing Athena’s core photography system, which consists of taking high resolution photographs of vibracore samples, and then subsequently compiling those photographs to develop photo-mosaic images of the cores.  Mr. Wicker has also streamlined data input of lithologic and laboratory data in the gINT geotechnical reporting system to increase functionality and efficiency of the software package.


Mr. Wicker’s varied professional experience has significantly improved Athena’s ability to provide efficient and high-quality data to our clients.