In 2010 and 2011, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), the US Navy, and Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) conducted archaeology surveys in the Patuxent River on a War of 1812 shipwreck. This blog documents our underwater archaeology surveys.

June 17, 2011

Back on the Patuxent!

This week we returned to the Patuxent River to gather information on the exact coordinates of the wreck and the depth of the sediment overlying the site. A drilling rig worked along side of us and collected two, 6 in. bores to a depth of 50 ft. Understanding the type and location of the strata help our engineers to determine how to build and install the proper cofferdam. The depth of the sediment over the wreck and the height of the hold are also figures that must go into the cofferdam construction equation.
Underwater archaeologists working off boats as they set up the excavation grid (above).

If we do have the USS Scorpion, the ship would have measured about 60 ft. in length, and about 16 ft. in width. The hold would have about a 5 ft. clearance--just enough room to store the sailor's belongings and rations. Based on our metal rod and hydroprobe results, the sediment over the wreck ranges from 3 ft. to just over 9 ft. The water is approximately 9 ft. in depth over the site during high tide, but can drop several feet during low tide.

Wes Hall and Lee Cox document the location and depth of their probes (below).

We will be working through the weekend and should be finished by the middle of next week. Taking the results from this survey, we will use it to determine the placement of larger excavation units along the edges of the wreck and hopefully within the hold area. On July 6th we will mobilize a large barge near the site and excavate at least half a dozen excavation units and conclude the testing during the first week of August.

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