Updates from the Field: September 20

An archaeologist preps the drill used for in situ monitoring

This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we'll be bringing you from the QAR recovery project this fall. 

In April, the QAR project was awarded a mini-grant from Sea Grant to develop an on-site  corrosion model using corrosion potential monitoring of the large iron artifacts, i.e. cannon and anchors.  We refer to this process as ‘in situ monitoring.’

In Situ Monitoring on Blackbeard's Anchors and Cannon

The goal is to get all the cannon and anchors on site tested and as many that are attainable, hooked up to sacrificial anodes, referred to as cathodic protection.  There are four cannon (C12, C14, C17 & C20) staged at the south and we were able to obtain readings and hook up all guns with anodes with the exception C17 which will be left with no cathodic protection as a control. 

Divers take down electrodes to attach to cannon for in situ monitoringKatrina Twing, an ECU Ph.D. student in biology, completed a water quality analysis and sediment sampling around the cannon--this will feed into this corrosion model. We have more in situ monitoring to do at the main ballast pile but we are awaiting some supplies so we will continue this study later in the fieldwork and will keep you posted.

Artifact Recovery: It's Not All Glamorous

All the in situ monitoring at the south was completed by Wednesday so we changed gears and prepared the boat for artifact recovery.

The crew spent most of the day removing the 3 feet of overburden sediment with 6 inch dredges that discharge off site. Once we made it down to the cultural layer we started using the 3-inch dredges that flow to the top of the deck and all sediment passes through the sluice boxes for small finds recovery. We only had one sluice box working so we did what we could to start the process of recovery. We were able to remove the first layer of ballast stones and a few concretions.   

Much more work will be needed on this unit and once we get back out there we will get right on it. The few artifacts recovered were taken back to the Cultural Resources QAR Conservation Lab at ECU in Greenville.

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