Another Canyon mapped!
We are now more than halfway through our cruise and have just completed mapping Washington Canyon. It had some interesting features, including a mini canyon off to the side of the main branch and some huge ripples on the sand. These may be relics from thousands of years ago when sea level was much lower and wave energy reached the seafloor. Our marine archaeologist, Dr. Rod Mather (University of Rhode Island), predicted the location of several wrecks near Washington and Norfolk Canyons. Last night his predictions were all confirmed and we now have multibeam images of some important archaeological targets to survey next year with the ROV. Although this kind of work is not the most thrilling of science to execute, it is fascinating to watch the secrets of the seafloor unfold before your eyes. The USGS scientists Drs. Jason Chaytor and Daniel Brothers have been working round the clock, with the assistance of students Megan Prescott (University of Washington) and Veronica Holton (College of Charleston), to process the multibeam data so we can identify sites for future exploration. In addition to the shipwrecks, we have seen areas that appear to be hard bottom habitat that we will visit next year to look for deep sea corals, and there is a great deal of structure on the canyon walls that may provide habitat for a whole suite of other creatures.