Using a remotely operated vehicle in an innovative way to locate underwater heritage
At almost 400 kilometres long, the scenic Trent-Severn Waterway is a meandering canal route that connects Lake Ontario to Lake Huron. With its system of functioning locks and dams controlling the water levels, this National Historic Site of Canada is operated by Parks Canada. They selected us to conduct an underwater archaeological impact assessment at Nassau Mills Dam at Lock 22 to document known underwater archaeological resources.
Conducting underwater archaeological work near an operating dam has safety and logistical issues, so we had to get creative. Our Underwater Archaeology team came up with an innovative approach. By using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) we located, documented, and photographed remnant underwater archaeological resources. From the images, our team used photogrammetry—digital image capturing and measurement interpretation—to produce 3D models of the archaeological features. The 3D models were then turned into georeferenced orthomosaics—a high-resolution, highly detailed geometrically corrected map—for site plan development. The underwater archaeological assessment identified nine historical features associated with the original nineteenth century wood- and rock-filled dam.
The underwater site plan and 3D models will be used for future archaeological work and to monitor the condition and preservation of the submerged historical features.
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