SEARCH FOR LAKE ERIE SHIPWRECKS MORE ACCURATE THANKS TO NEW TECHNOLOGY|
ODNR pilot study report now available
SANDUSKY, OH - The report of a pilot study using high-frequency sound waves to locate shipwrecks in the vicinity of Kelleys Island in Lake Erie is now available, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Using side-scan sonar and Global Positioning System technologies, the Lake Erie Geology Group of ODNR’s Division of Geological Survey was able to more accurately locate and map known shipwrecks. The one-year study was undertaken to test whether side-scan sonar can help fulfill ODNR’s obligation to inventory, evaluate and protect shipwrecks. It also allowed scientists to develop methods of searching for previously unidentified shipwrecks in areas known to be treacherous for sailors.
Side-scan sonar produces an image like an aerial photograph, but at an oblique angle. Shipwrecks located and mapped during the study include the George Dunbar, Amaretta Mosher, and F.H. Prince. Four wrecks were located on the west and southwest side of Kelleys Island; the ships are assumed to be the Oak Valley, L.B. Crocker, C.H. Plummer, and the tugboat Relief, but it is unclear which ship corresponds to each location without a subsequent study.
Scientists also used the side-scan sonar to study the Gull Island Shoal, known to be the most treacherous reef in Lake Erie. Although as many as five wrecks are believed to have occurred in the vicinity of this reef, no shipwrecks were positively identified there.
“Locating and identifying Lake Erie’s cultural resources helps us preserve our maritime heritage,” said Constance Livchak, supervisor of the Lake Erie Geology Group. “We’d like to eventually expand the project to include other locations where shipwrecks might be located.”
According to acting State Geologist Larry Wickstrom, the new report will be helpful to scientists, archeologists, historians, recreational divers, and the general public. “Data collected also is used to understand the nature of Lake Erie’s bottom sediments, which helps characterize the lake’s current condition.”
Report of Investigations No. 148, Archeological search for shipwrecks in the vicinity of Kelleys Island, Lake Erie: A pilot study, August 2003 is available at a cost of $10 plus tax and shipping from the Division of Geological Survey’s Geologic Records Center (2045 Morse Road, Bldg. C, Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693; 614-265-6576) or the Lake Erie Geological Survey field office in Sandusky (1634 Sycamore Line Road, Sandusky, Ohio 44870-4132; 419-626-4296).