NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard Research Vessel Western Flyer
September 18 – 22, 2006
Mission: USS Macon Wreck Archeological Expedition
Geographical Area: California Coast
Date: September 21, 2006
Weather Report from the Bridge
Wind direction and speed: NWxW 24kts
Swell direction and height: NW 6’-8’
Seawater temperature: 55.7oF
Sea level pressure: 1019 millibars
Cloud cover: 2/8
Science and Technology Log
Work at the USS MACON wreck site continues, alternating between mosaic work and survey work depending on water conditions at the bottom. Today’s log will profile two members of the expedition whose jobs provide a context for the information being gathered.
Erica Burton works for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and is responsible for operating VARS, which stands for Video Annotation and Reference System. VARS is a database that allows screen images to be captured, logged, and georeferenced with annotated notes. For the MACON expedition these notes list the possible identity of the artifacts. In addition to the captured image, VARS also records the time stamp in the video and a geographical location. All the images and video captured are archived at MBARI (the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), and later, in conjunction with the National Marine Sanctuary Program, staff will process and interpret to produce a final photo-mosaic poster that will be made available to the public. Burton, who has a background in marine biology, also notes that the USS MACON wreckage provides an artificial hard-bottom habitat in an otherwise soft-bottom habitat, and the organisms observed are primarily soft-bottom fishes with occasional encrusting organisms on the wreckage.
Lee Murai is a Geological Oceanography student at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and is the GIS (Geographical Information System) analyst. Through GIS software he is able to spatially organize the data collected on this expedition and compare it to the 1990 and 1991 expeditions. Types of data collected in the past include side-scan sonar, multi-beam bathymetry, and waypoints collected by Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and manned submersibles. For this expedition he is working closely with the Stanford University team to assist with the photomosaic collection procedure. The GIS map posted on day 1 was provided by Murai. Compare that to the low-resolution image tiles posted today. While the use of GIS is relatively new to the field of marine archeology, it is generally used in marine environments to provide geologic and biologic habitat characterization maps.