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Pushing the Boundaries: Using Advanced Technology to Locate and Rapidly Assess Cultural Sites in Multiple Underwater Environments within NOAA's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Metadata Updated: July 29, 2023

Located in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established in 2000 to protect one of the nation's most historically significant collections of shipwrecks. In 2014, the sanctuary expanded from 448 to 4,300 square miles, making it the nation's largest marine protected area (MPA) focused on underwater cultural heritage sites. Within this new boundary are 93 known shipwreck sites, while historic research indicates as many 100 additional sites remain undiscovered. The diverse geography throughout the expansion area, however, poses a challenge to traditional survey and site assessment techniques. Shallow, remote shorelines and shoal areas limit access from the water and preclude use of conventional vessel-deployed underwater survey tools. Similarly, little is known about the deeper bottomlands within the sanctuary's offshore expanses. Standard archaeological survey tools, sonar and marine magnetometer, offer a limited view of these areas. This project sought to develop innovative, technology-centered, and repeatable methodologies for locating and rapidly assessing cultural sites in shallow (less than 20 feet) and deep water (greater than 130 feet) areas. This project experimented with cutting-edge equipment and techniques. The deepwater survey segment involved looking for the historically significant wreck of steamer Choctaw, while the shallower survey focused on known "ship traps", determined via analysis of the region's coastal geography and historical use. Funding for this project was provided by NOAA Ocean Exploration via its Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2016 Funding Opportunity. This dataset contains field images and video taken by uncrewed aerial systems, scientific divers, and a remotely operated vehicle during project fieldwork May-August 2017 in Presque Isle County, Michigan.

Access & Use Information

License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Date April 20, 2023
Metadata Created Date July 29, 2023
Metadata Updated Date July 29, 2023
Reference Date(s) April 10, 2017 (creation)
Frequency Of Update notPlanned

Metadata Source

Harvested from NCDDC OER

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Collectionsession
Metadata Date April 20, 2023
Metadata Created Date July 29, 2023
Metadata Updated Date July 29, 2023
Reference Date(s) April 10, 2017 (creation)
Responsible Party NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (Point of Contact); Great Lakes Research Center, Robbins Professor of Sustainable Marine Engineering, Michigan Technological University (Principal Investigator)
Contact Email
Guid gov.noaa.ncei.oer:ThunderBay2017_COLLECTION
Access Constraints
Bbox East Long -83.21
Bbox North Lat 45.37
Bbox South Lat 44.84
Bbox West Long -83.61
Coupled Resource
Frequency Of Update notPlanned
Harvest Object Id 48fcb317-cfba-4685-9453-8512079c0f4d
Harvest Source Id 0eb61eac-016f-4f95-a6c3-2974339749bb
Harvest Source Title NCDDC OER
Licence Access Constraints: No access constraints Use Constraints: No use constraints.
Metadata Language eng; USA
Metadata Type geospatial
Old Spatial {"type": "Polygon", "coordinates": [[[-83.61, 44.84], [-83.21, 44.84], [-83.21, 45.37], [-83.61, 45.37], [-83.61, 44.84]]]}
Progress completed
Spatial Data Service Type
Spatial Reference System
Spatial Harvester True

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