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article imageUsing satellite technology to find shipwrecks

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2016 in Odd News
Historians are using satellite technology to scan the world's oceans to look for sunken ships of historical importance. The space-high scanning has produced some interesting finds.
Forget scouring over ancient maps or peering through historical accounts of past maritime disasters. The historians of today seeking sunken vessels are more likely to use satellite scanning technology to look to their quarry. Even with modern technology, there is much to do. It is estimated there are over 3 million sunken ships in the world and the majority of these are in the North Atlantic Ocean. Although only a fraction of these will be of historical importance, it's important that the ship of historical interest is detected rather than a rusty heap of forgotten debris.
Many of the sunken ships will also contain treasure. For example, the recent discovery of the Port Nicholson, a World War II–era British merchant ship, which was found 50 miles off the coast of Maine, contained 71 tons of platinum ingots worth, today, about $3 billion.
Pioneering satellite technology has been presented in a recent article by geologist Matthias Baeye at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Dr. Baeye explains that shipwrecks produce Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) concentration signals which can be detected by high-resolution ocean color satellite data such as NASA’s Landsat-8. Suspended particulate matter is a collective name for fine solid or liquid particles added to the atmosphere by processes at the earth's surface.
Some 70 percent of sunken wrecks in European waters date back to the two major wars of the twentieth century. With these ships, their metal structures are ageing and their metal plates are deteriorating, releasing contents into the ocean due to the effects of corrosion.
The technique is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, with the research headed: "Detection of shipwrecks in ocean colour satellite imagery."
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