Update by Della Scott-Ireton, FPAN, and Ashley Rose Gould, Texas A&M
The project proceeds – the seas picked up over the last day or so which slowed us down a little, although it looks like the worst has passed and the seas are supposed to lay down now.
Today we made two passes over the site with a high resolution camera mounted on one of the ROVs, taking photographs every four seconds. The resulting photographs were stitched together to create a preliminary photomosaic of the wreck site showing all of the exposed artifacts. This photomosaic was used to decide on a plan of attack for recovering the artifacts. Large containers holding a variety of baskets and crates were prepared and lowered to the sea floor by the ROV. They are staged just off-site and are ready to hold the artifacts as they are excavated from the shipwreck. Once the containers are full, the ROV will transport the artifacts to the ship where the conservation crew will take charge of preparing them for transport to the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A&M University.
The high resolution images revealed, in addition to the artifacts we’d seen previously, several additional large concretions. These concretions are made up of iron artifacts that have corroded over long years underwater into a large mass. The artifacts within the concretion will be identified and preserved in the lab, but for now it’s difficult to tell exactly how big the concretion is, or what artifacts it might contain.
The next step is to use the positioning array, placed yesterday, to create a more detailed photomosaic. Ten passes, or lanes, will be run lengthwise across the site with the ROV about ten feet above the shipwreck and moving very slowly. Shooting four or five photos per second, this photomosaic will provide an extremely detailed site plan. Sediment and water samples will be taken to record the site’s environmental conditions, and then artifact removal can begin.