Dispatch 6: Chief Scientists Log 9/5/00
September 5, 2000
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Chief Scientist Bob Ballard sends the following
expedition update from his log:
The last 4 days have been very busy ones. We arrived
at our first study area some 40 miles [64.4 kilometers]
west of Sinop and immediately began working. We
picked this area because it contains a large region of
submerged land that would have been an excellent
place for people to live prior to the flood.
The northern coast of Turkey is very mountainous with
steep slopes that plunge into the sea resulting in steep
underwater terrain. There are only a couple of places
between Istanbul and Sinop were one can find an
underwater landscape were people might have been
living before the flood.
The area we picked off the Turkish seaports of Abana to
Ayancik is one such place. It also has several rivers
that flow down from the mountains, out onto the
submerged shelf before plunging into the deep abyss.
Our job is to find those river channels that are now
submerged beneath the floodwaters of the Black Sea
and trace them out across the once exposed land surface
to where they enter what would have been the ancient
Clearly, ancient people would have lived along such
river channels where they enter the ancient lake.
Initially, we concentrated our efforts in the western half
of the study area between Abana and Turkeli.
Unfortunately, the maps of this area are very crude,
causing us to falsely assume that a major submerged
river delta existed in this area with various river
channels cutting through it.
As our survey progressed, however, we found no rivers
cutting across the area to enter the ancient lake. We
found instead a coastal bluff having a narrow sloping
It wasnt until the very end of the survey that
we found a river channel entering the sea in the eastern
edge of our survey area just east of Turkeli.
Before expanding our survey area to the east to include
this river channel, we decided to put our visual
imaging vehicle ARGUS into the water to
check out some of the individual targets we detected
during the survey as well as inspect the newly
discovered river channel.
The first target we looked at caused quite a stir. It was
my favorite one from the survey. It was located at the
intersection of two small inland river channels. It was a
rectangular features some 12 meters [13 yards] long by
4 meters [4.4 yards] wide. I thought it might be a
shipwreck but it didnt look quite right.
When we approached it we found it to be mostly logs
and timbers with nothing that would suggest a
maritime purpose. No amphora, no anchors, cables, or
machinery. The archaeologists on board were left
scratching their heads. Clearly, we need to send our
new ROV LITTLE HERCULES down to take a
look but our pilot Martin Bowen was not due to arrive
until the 7th.
We would just have to wait.
In the meantime, we began moving toward some other
targets when the sonar system on ARGUS
flooded putting us out of action. We were able to explore
the ancient lake bottom and the shoreline where we saw
ancient sand waves, shelly beaches, and dead trees but
we were not able to inspect specific targets we had seen
until a new sonar arrives by air.
I had hoped to check out several targets that appeared
to be ancient shipwrecks but that to would have to wait.
With ARGUS out of the water for repairs, I close
this entry as the DSL-120 heads toward the bottom to
map our newly discovered river channel.
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