Home > Archaeology, News, Physics > Canada Finds Evidence of Failed 1845 Arctic Expedition

Canada Finds Evidence of Failed 1845 Arctic Expedition

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
File:John Franklin.jpg

Sir John Franklin

In 1845, the Franklin Expedition, led by John Franklin, set sail from England looking for the Northwest Passage.

Unfortunately, the expedition became stuck in the Arctic ice near King William Island and the entire expedition (128 people) was lost.

Just yesterday, Parks Canada announced that an archeological project in the Canadian arctic had found evidence of Franklin’s two lost ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror (now THAT’S a name for a ship!)

While they have not yet found the ships themselves, they did find evidence of the expedition,

“We found bottle glass — possibly from wine or spirit bottles — copper nails, tent canvas, twine, rope … we found some pieces of clay tobacco smoking pipes,” said Jonathan Moore of Parks Canada.

Finding the actual ships of the Franklin Expedition will be quite challenging, as detailed in the Parks Canada news release,

The search for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror is made more challenging by the vastness of the Canadian Arctic and the harsh conditions that are frequently encountered in northern waters. It is also complicated by differing accounts of the fate of Franklin’s ships as preserved in Inuit traditional knowledge, and the many interpretations given to these accounts on the possible resting place of the wrecks.

The survey team uses a particularly cool technique called LiDaR (Light Detection and Ranging) to map the seabed to try to find the wrecks of these two ships.

LIDAR is often used in meteorological surveys to detect temperature and pressure changes in the atmosphere. It can also be applied to mapping the underwater landscape of an area, drastically increasing the efficiency of a search such as this one.

File:LIDAR-scanned-SICK-LMS-animation.gif

This animation shows a LIDAR (appearance based on SICK LMS 219) with a single beam scanned in one axis. The top image shows the scanning mechanism; the middle image shows the laser's path through a basic scene; the bottom image shows the sensor's output, after conversion from polar to Cartesian coordinates.

 

Just another example of sweet tools that physicists use that can be applied in other fields of science, like archaeology.

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