Sunday, 19 July 2009

Work hard, play hard - the life of an underwater archaeologist

Last night, at the end of the first week of the fieldschool, we finally had a chance to relax and let our hair down at a traditional Scottish ceilidh ("kay-lee") in the local social club. Expecting an evening of culture and folk music, we were somewhat surprised when an ageing rock band took to the stage and turned the volume up to 'very loud indeed'. Nevertheless, it proved to be a great night and everyone had a good time.

Fieldschool participants demonstrating the spirit of international cooperation.

This morning saw us once again onboard Sound Diver for a morning of instruction in geophysics and the equipment used. We learnt about proton magnetometers and side-scan sonar, before putting our knowledge into use and deploying them from the boat.

Steve setting up the side-scan sonar.

The magnetometer detects ferrous objects nearby, which generally means metal from a ship, but can also be from pottery or volcanic rock, so it's frequently used in conjunction with the sonar to detect larger solid objects.

Despite assurances that all the equipment was working, it took several tries before we saw what looked like a lump on the seabed. Apparently this was the wreck, and we would have to calibrate the equipment to view it in greater detail.

Greg checking results from the magnetometer. Still no wreck in sight!

Lee looking at the output from the side-scan sonar. It shows detail of solid features on the seabed.

With everyone well versed in these techniques, we headed back in for lunch. The plan for the afternoon was to dive the Rondo, a wreck from 1935. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated on the way out, so the plan was changed to dive a more sheltered bay. This was a nice relaxing dive and was enjoyed by all.

So another busy day, with a lot of new information and techniques learnt. Hopefully we'll get a chance to put it all into practice later during the fieldschool.

1 comment:

  1. glad the sidescan behaved itself. Did you have any problems following the instructions orwith the com ports on the laptop and which of the serial to USB adaptors did you use? (the 2 singles or the one double). What was image quality like?. Post up a screen grab showing something shipwrecky.
    PS tell Mary that Hazardous excavation has been blown out for the third time. Wish I was up in Scotland.