Great Lakes magnetometry

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Photo:  The USS Scourge Photo: Wiki/PD-Old

Experts have carried out the first magnetometry expedition over the shipwrecks of USS Scourge and USS Hamilton in North America’s Lake Ontario.

The two United States warships slipped beneath the lake’s surface in a squall during the war of 1812, killing 53 sailors. Since then all have lain 88 metres below the surface.

Senior marine archaeologists on the Parks Canada research vessel Investigator, ventured out to the wreck site just a few weeks short of the 200th anniversary of the sinking to check the condition of the vessels.

The magnetometer survey is being used to generate a magnetic anomaly of the study area to detect debris fields and the possible locations of the wreck’s knock down positions.

Experts also used side scan sonar to detect any obvious movement of ordnance on the decks and to ascertain that the masts on Hamilton, which were still standing in 2009, are still upright.

The survey was also used to discover the extent of mussel beds which are fast covering artefacts. These quagga mussels introduced to the Great Lakes by foreign ships discharging bilge water are obstructing the view of the hulls, decks and cannons over time.

Fortunately the vessels were documented well pre-infestation during the 1982 expedition.

The wrecks were discovered in 1973 by Dr Daniel Nelson and became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976.