Titanic Discoverer Explores Eratosthenes Seamount
The discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic, Dr. Robert Ballard, is exploring the Eratosthenes Seamount, a massive flat-topped undersea mountain that is 2000 metres high with its peak 690 metres beneath sea level.
The researchers have spotted some interesting things, including 28 amphorae, two sinkholes and a flare. The amphorae and flare could indicate shipwrecked vessels somewhere in the vicinity, said one of the crew during a live broadcast.
One sinkhole was showered with what is called 'marine snow' or a constant drift of sediment like sand that picks up the light and appears phosphorescent. Sinkholes can show inner layers of rock that give clues to geologists about minerals or metals that make up the mountain, plus its age. Scientists were also checking for 'cold seeps' in the sinkholes, which are areas where natural gas seeps out from between the rocks as the pressure of the sea pushes down on the surface of the mountain.
Weird and wonderful creatures were spotted like a large pink shrimp with two long tails streaming behind it and a 30cm shark. It's the first time these creatures, which live up to 890m below the surface, have seen light.
At 1.15pm, the exploration was interrupted by a fire and safety drill and it resumed at 1.40pm.
An interesting prospect is the shipwreck of The Napried, which was carrying artefacts from the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot antiquities and sank shortly after leaving Beirut Port in 1872. It is laying somewhere between Cyprus and Lebanon, according to discussions on The Nautilus, and there has never been a concerted hunt for it.Luigi Palma di Cesnola was a soldier, adventurer, diplomat and collector who came to Cyprus in 1865 and went on a treasure hunt, netting 35,000 antiquities, many of which that are now on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
If any antiquities were found by The Nautilus, the Cypriot scientist on board would get in touch with the Ministry of Culture and Antiquities and follow instructions from them, said Larry Mayer, watch leader, adding that the expedition is not an archaelogical one, but a scientific one. A Cypriot geologist is on board and will receive copies of all the data that is gathered.
Exploration of the seamount is being carried out by The Nautilus vessel 60 miles south of Cyprus, and its crew is mapping out the mountain's biological and geological features. Eratosthenes may be have a volcano at its core, and the scientists hope to map out geological clues that may confirm this.
EN Nautilus is a 211-foot research vessel with state-of-the-art exploration technology. Researchers are using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) named Hercules and Argus to view the seafloor with high-definition video, which entered the water yesterday August 14th.
Dr. Robert Ballard and Dr. Katherin Croff Bell are leading the expedition, which includes more than 100 scientists, engineers and educators. Hercules and Argos will sail east, covering the whole distance of the seamount, around 21 miles, and will search for sinkholes, remnants of the time when Eratosthenes was above sea level, said a spokesman for the expedition, George Zaidan.
Eratosthenes was above sea level five to six million years ago when the Mediterranean almost dried up due to climate changes. Nautilus' expedition can be followed live on www.nautiluslive.org.
Map of Eratosthenes: Seamount Medimap Group
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