2011-04

2011-04

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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) located in Vergennes, Vermont, has undertaken innovative research in the non-invasive documentation of submerged archaeological sites. In recent years, handheld imaging sonars have been developed that provide near-visual quality information regardless of underwater conditions. The adaptation of existing imaging sonars for use on underwater sites will have widespread applicability to the nation’s thousands of submerged archaeological sites located in turbid waters that make detailed archaeological documentation impractical. LCMM has prototyped the feasibility and methodologies for this technology using a Blue View DF900-2250 Dual Frequency Miniature Multibeam Imaging System on sites in Lake Champlain. This research was undertaken with funding from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.

Diving with Multibeam Sonar

LCMM Archaeological Director Adam Kane and LCMM Archaeological Diver Pierre LaRocque prepare to use the multibeam Blue View DF900-2250 Dual Frequency Miniature Multibeam ImagingSystem on Lake Champlain.

LCMM archaeologists tested the Blue View DF900-2250 on three sites in Lake Champlain. The first test subject was in shallow water, consisting of a simple board with raised lettering. The sonar system was then brought to a medium-depth shipwreck of a brick barge, Wreck GGG. Finally, the Blue View DF900-2250 was tested on the shallow-water wreck of the Champlain II, a nineteenth century steamboat.

Multibeam sonar mosaic of Wreck GGG in Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Collection.

Multibeam sonar mosaic of Wreck GGG in Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Collection.

After multiple dives on one test subject and two shipwrecks, LCMM archaeologists determined that the Blue View DF900-2250 Dual Frequency Miniature Multibeam Imaging System is not an effective tool to document the details of a shipwreck. However, it is an extremely useful system to provide a “big picture” image that could not be created by any other method at our disposal. Especially in low visibility environments, it also provided a safety mechanism by which we could immediately locate a separated diver.

More information about this project as well as a detailed Technical Report is located at LCMM’s website, www.lcmm.org.

This project was made possible through Grant MT-2210-09-NC-02 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

 

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