Thursday , January 21 2021

The mapping of our seabed reveals guns and shipwrecks

By Lynn Kelleher

The territorial waters of Ireland are fully planned for 2026.

Since mapping began in 1996 with the Infomar project, scientists found chasms twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in our 880,000 km of territorial water, which is 10 times the size of our land mass.

In a new series of RTÉ, marine geologist Charise McKeon reveals that notable 3D images of about 18,000 shipwrecks located outside our coast are now available.

"We have more than 360 shipwrecks in the Infomar database," he said. "We have many casualties that belong to the World War.

"The most infamous, 22 km from Kinsale, was the RMS Lusitania that fell in May 1915, torpedoed, more than 1,100 people lost their lives.

"There is the human connection that brings the wreck. Each shipwreck, known or not known, has a history."

Wrecks are often underwater cemeteries and any shipwreck with more than 100 years has a patrimonial order placed on them to prevent people from disturbing or harming them.

Mapping helps protect patrimonial sites.

Judge Maria of Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) said that scientists can map vast depths below the surface in Irish waters using sound equipment.

"We use a whole fleet of marine vessels," said the marine gecientist.

"We have a helmet mounted directly below the ship with a multi-beam sound that sends sound to the bottom of the sea.

"This builds very smooth and three-dimensional images of the bottom of the sea.

"Another aspect of the mapping of our seabed is that we can see extraordinary characteristics: it is not only deep, dark, damp and flat around.

"There are incredible guns along with flowing sediments and create these great landslides and large lobes of sediments deep in a deep ocean."

"We started mapping in the late 90's and we're still mapping now. It takes an extraordinary time.

"The Infomar project is scheduled to run until 2026 so we expect to have more, if not all, the whole Irish territory of Ireland mapped to high resolution by then. Some territories of the Irish ocean enter vast chasmos more than double depth That the Grand Canyon after the continental shelf.

"At this point, we are reaching a depth of more than 4 km in depth. This is practically as high as the highest alpine mountain."

GSI has mapped our deepest waters to the outer extremities of our territory, along with treacherous coastal environments and important commercial land areas.

The final phase is underway to map out environmentally significant areas to complete the mapping of ocean floors in the country.

10 Things to Know About will be shown on RTÉ One tonight at 20:30.

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