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Meadows Center returns to Gulf to explore mystery shipwrecks

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
April 15, 2014

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University will once again operate its Exploration Command Center April 17, 18 and 24, where its team of scientists and partner organizations will guide exploratory dives on several shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico via a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

The three-day event is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer's 2014 Gulf of Mexico Expedition, the latest round of exploration for a team that includes The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State, NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Texas Historical Commission, ExploreOcean and the Maryland Historical Trust.

The Exploration Command Center is located in The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment's Discovery Hall on campus at 211 San Marcos Springs Drive. Visitation is welcome, free and open to the public throughout the expedition from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to speak with mission archaeologists Fritz Hanselmann and Amy Borgens while watching the Gulf of Mexico expedition unfold via a live stream. The public can also watch the mission via live stream from the Internet at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/media/exstream/exstream.html.

The Okeanos Explorer made reconnaissance dives on the first of these shipwreck sites in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the team returned on the E/V Nautilus for further in depth study of the initial shipwreck and the discovery of the second and third wrecks, which became known collectively as "the Monterrey shipwrecks." The Monterrey shipwrecks lay approximately 150 miles southeast of Galveston at a depth of 4,500 feet below the surface.

"After studying the ships and artifacts inside, we believe these wooden ships date to the early 1800s," said Meadows Center underwater archaeologist Fritz Hanselmann. Expedition archaeologists and scientists plan to further explore the Monterrey shipwrecks for further biological and archaeological information. Following this effort, they will turn their focus to a fourth area, which could hold the remains of other potentially undocumented shipwrecks.

"The unexplored site has only been documented with sonar and based on those images, we suspect it might be a shipwreck," said Hanselmann, "This is an exciting opportunity to return to the Monterrey shipwreck sites and to potentially discover other completely new shipwrecks."

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment was so named following a $5 million gift from The Meadows Foundation in August 2012. The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is dedicated to environmental research, stewardship, education and service. It is directed by renowned conservationist Andrew Sansom.

For more information, contact Fritz Hanselmann at fritz@txstate.edu or (512) 245-4490.