Archeological surveys of the wreck site


Status
Not open for further replies.
Jun 13, 2006
69
1
98
Hi everyone.

I'm not sure if this is in the right place but here goes...

Does anyone know if an archeological survey has been made of the entire wreck site, and can we get hold of a copy of said survey?

After rewatching the recent documentary (Last mysteries?) with the new break-up hypothesis, I figured the only way us armchair historians can make an educated guess as to the nature of the break-up is by locating the various shell plates and hull pieces on the sea bed.

Can anyone help?

love Rich
 

Erik Wood

Member
Aug 24, 2000
3,519
15
313
I can't help but wonder if it did occur if it wouldn't break some sort of record for depth???
 
Jun 13, 2006
69
1
98
From what I've seen and heard none of the salvors have done any kind of legitimate survey, just tracing the different routes the subs have taken around the debris field. I think any survey would have to hold some kind of record! I would love to see a detailed map of the entire wreck site possibly starting with the hypothetical ribbons of steel, the trail of coal and debris while the ship was floating with the current during the sinking, and the trail of wreckage as the hulk descended to the bottom. From that we could do a "reverse sinking" and then begin to understand how the ship really broke apart. Surely it couldn't be too difficult to get GPS coordinates of the items in the wreck site?

Incidently, have the legs of the two forward engines ever been located in the debris field? I've seen photos of the smashed cylinders on the seabed but not the legs. Could they still be attached to the two sections of hull bottom highlighted on the recent documentary?

Rich
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,649
829
563
Easley South Carolina
>>From what I've seen and heard none of the salvors have done any kind of legitimate survey,<<

I don't know of any such either, but I would be a bit surprised if they didn't. Whenever RMSTI goes out on an expedition, they often have some specific goals in mind and targets to go after. It's kind of hard to do that if you don't have a good idea where the artifacts of interest are located.

The thing is, they don't have a very compelling reason to share that sort of information and may have reasons not to. (Like denying information to people intent on illegal salvage operations.)

If something has been done by anyone other the RMSTI, the Woods Hole people would be the best ones to ask about it.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,649
829
563
Easley South Carolina
>>Never thought of the illegal salvage part of it.<<

You can be sure that RMSTI though about it and for good reason! Remember that discussion we had last year about just such an expedition out to the wreck? Apparantly, it happened! I'd be very surprised if Woods Hole hasn't thought about that problem as well.
 
Oct 28, 2000
3,242
548
388
There is something odd about the information coming back from the bottom. I don't think anyone is afraid of pirates. My observation is that information about what's on the bottom is being hoarded. "I know something that nobody else knows," seems to be the motto. As a result while the total sum of known information about the wreck is quite large, nobody knows all of it. Nor do the various researchers individually know enough to put the picture together. It's like a puzzle being assembled by a bunch of greedy people who do not want to put their pieces onto the table because somebody else will benefit.

Frankly, the secrecy surrounding the wreck isn't protective, it's pure childish greed.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,649
829
563
Easley South Carolina
>>Frankly, the secrecy surrounding the wreck isn't protective, it's pure childish greed.<<

Whatever it is, it's also counterproductive, especially for anyone interested in the forensics angles of this affair.

Genuine scientific investigation doesn't do well in an environment of secrecy but does remarkably well when information can be shared and debated, and the propositions offered in light of all the evidence can be tested.

The extant and form of the debris field it's content, and the location of the wreckage in relation to the hull or hull fragments of any shipwreck can be quite revealing when trying to figure out what happened and why. I hope one day the parties involved will eventually wise up and lay their cards out for all to see.
 
Nov 29, 2005
85
6
158
I have been to the Titanic wreck site with three archaeologists, and I have participated in the deepest archaeological shipwreck survey ever conducted (16,000 feet). Please allow me to weigh in with a different perspective.

The problems with conducting an archaeological survey of the wreck site are: (a) it's huge (almost three square miles); (b) it's extremely deep; (c) it's incredibly expensive to operate at this depth; (d) the French, Americans and Russians all use different nav systems and it is extremely difficult to marry them together; (e) GPS does not work underwater; (f) it would take years to collect and analyze the data; and (g) how do you decide what technology to use, where is it going to come from, and who is going to pay for it?

Despite this, there have been attempts to conduct archaeological surveys of the wreck site.

On the 2000 RMST expedition, the entire wreck site was divided into 400 square meter grids and each grid was systematically searched. Thousands of individual artifacts were observed, but there were just too many to catalog and study. Moreover, due to equipment problems (film not advancing in the cameras, video or lights not working, nav being off), it was extremely difficult to conduct an accurate survey. Nevertheless, Jim Sinclair did try to put together an archaeological report on behalf of RMST.

In 2003 and 2004, NOAA attempted to conduct a digital survey of the wreck site. Once again, equipment problems plagued this effort, and not all of the wreck site was covered.

To my knowledge, the most comprehensive surveys ever undertaken were conducted by Woods Hole in 1985 and 1986, but this involved thousands of photographs and mapping and I believe all of the data still has not been completely analyzed. This may be an issue of cost, or it may be that it just was not a priority after a while. Who knows?

The fact is, conducting a complete archaeological survey would be on par with the TWA Flight 800 accident investigation, except it would be done 12,350 feet deeper. That's not easy.
 
Nov 29, 2005
85
6
158
Thank you Michael. When you consider that expedition costs, including equipment rental, salaries, consumables and other items, can easily exceed $100,000 per day, the idea of spending 20 to 30 days on site to complete an archaeological survey begins to look daunting. Then consider the cost of analyzing and collating the data. It's staggering.

I applaud RMST and Jim Sinclair for trying to compile and publish a report in 2000. Could it have been better? Certainly. Did anybody offer to help make it better rather than simply criticize it? Absolutely not. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,649
829
563
Easley South Carolina
>>When you consider that expedition costs, including equipment rental, salaries, consumables and other items, can easily exceed $100,000 per day,<<

Indeed, and it sure would be nice if somebody would be willing to cough up several million dollars that's burning a hole in their pocket to make things happen, but even with inflation, that's not exactly chump change.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand that there are a lot of problems with trying to accomplish something in 12,500 feet of water that go way beyond money, and I do understand the problems. Hell, just doing an archeaological dig on land involves extensive survey work, laying out grids, excruciatingly exact documentation to preserve context and excavation with tools that can often be no better then a toothbrush. You dare not take the sledgehammer and backhoe approach lest you destroy something important.

Money doesn't do away with visibility being reduced to nothing by sheer darkness or silt being stirred up, nor does it make treacherous and unpredictable currents go away. Never mind cranky equipment that had bloody well better work or you're dead! At least you can breathe on the beach.

You can't exactly get out and walk either, and three square miles of territory (This may well be an underestimate of the true size of the debris field and probably is.) is nothing to sneeze at.
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
David C.:

I've always wondered if the debris items found around the wrecksite were better preserved if they were buried beneath the mud. Like the bell that was found, half was smooth and well preserved, the other half was rough and etched. But I don't know which side was in the mud, or in the water. Can you answer this question for me?

Yuri
 
Nov 29, 2005
85
6
158
Yuri,

Generally, an item that is buried in bottom sediments is more likely to be preserved than one that is exposed to all the micro-organisms that like to eat organic material. Basically, if it's buried, it's not part of the food chain. If it's exposed, it's fair game.

The exception to this is extremely deep water, deeper than Titanic. We discovered the world's deepest wooden shipwreck 16,000 feet deep in the Bermuda Triangle. The ship sank in 1810, but the wooden frame was still intact. We recovered wooden navigational equipment that was perfectly preserved, along with cloth, rope and even a piece of newspaper. It was remarkable. I think I have two photos posted on my web site, www.explorerconsulting.com .

Regards,
David Concannon
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
Thanks for the answer David. Thats both fascinating, and a little spooky, about the wooden vessel. Makes you wonder what Titanic would look like had it sank to those depths.

What about metal objects? You mentioned organic things in your reply. Does that answer also cover metal?

Yuri
 
Nov 29, 2005
85
6
158
Yuri,

It depends on the type of metal. The copper sheathing on the hull was still intact, as were the brass swing arms on the octants we recovered, but the iron nails were eaten away in places. However, the pistols were relatively intact.
 
Jul 14, 2000
741
20
263
Sorry David, I was inquiring specifically to Titanic on that last question. I wasn't very clear about it though was I.
Do you think the hull of Titanic is any better preserved down below the mudline?

Thanks
Yuri
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads