2005 Nancy Foster Remote Sensing Cruise

During a 5-day cruise onboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster in June 2005, archaeologists used a magnetometer and side scan sonar to survey areas of the sanctuary. The project's goal was to conduct a systematic survey of discrete areas of the sanctuary. The survey areas were chosen based upon historically reported vessel losses and fishing hangs. In total, the project surveyed 10 square kilometers of seafloor ranging in depth from 70 meters to 140 meters.

Nancy Foster
The NOAA ship Nancy Foster was the platform
for the remote sensing cruise.

Archaeologists use a magnetometer and side scan sonar to locate maritime heritage resources in the sanctuary.


The side scan sonar mapped several areas of seafloor with large boulders and rock ridges deposited by the glaciers that formed the topography of the sanctuary. The remote sensing equipment located several anomalies with shipwreck characteristics. Historic uses of the sanctuary include fishing and maritime transportation, all evidenced by the remains of shipwrecks on the seafloor. Remote sensing surveys are the best means available to the sanctuary to locate the physical remnants of this extensive maritime heritage.

Future investigations with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will determine whether these anomalies are maritime heritage resources. A ROV will be used to ground truth targets and determine if they are natural or manmade objects. This project helps the sanctuary locate, inventory, and assess its shipwrecks in compliance with the National Marine Sanctuary Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.


Hydrolic winch
A hydraulic winch is used to raise and lower the towfish in the water.

Mosiacked sonar image of a boulder field
Mosaicked sonar image of a boulder field created
from two passes with the side scan sonar.

This project was made possible through support from NOAA's Maritime Heritage Program and the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut.


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