Archaeology Research on Catalina Island

November 30 2014
The goal of this expedition is to find ancient sites for archaeology research on Catalina island while simultaneously testing out the use of new technology such as an OpenROV and a DJI Phantom 2 for archaeological research purposes. Read background
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November 30 2014

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Preparation Stage

This weekend we took our quadcopter out to Catalina island with the intent of testing a new 3D printed camera mount and its ability to make a structure from motion diagram. Unfortunately the ROV was having some issues on Friday night so we were forced to leave it on the mainland.

In the weeks before we had 3D printed a GoPro mount which allows for two cameras to be mounted side by side. The idea is that we will be able to record in 3D and make our landscape models incredibly accurate.

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Expedition Background

Since the end of the Ice age, the sea has been progressively rising. This means for islands such as Catiline Island which is a medium sized land mass off the coast of Los Angleses, the area in which people once lived in is now preserved underwater. To an archaeologist, the possibility of finding ancient artifacts relatively close to civilization is a rare occurrence. The only catch is that unlike traditional archaeology, these digs sites are around 30 meters beneath the waves.

Yet, with the help of an OpenROV we will hopefully explore underwater coves looking for remnants of a past civilization. This OpenROV will also be coupled with a DJI Phantom 2 which will used to create Ariel structure from motion diagrams to predict where waterways once were. From there, the OpenROV will then be deployed in these prospective spots with a conductivity sensor looking for underwater freshwater Springs. With a little luck and some hard work we will hopefully find something.

This research that we will be doing is being facilitated through the University of Southern California's Archaeology's department.
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What areas of the island are you focusing on? Avalon area, Two Habors? How does OpenROV handle the current ?

This is SO COOL!
OpenROV is most responsive only in very light current. I've spent a substantial amount of time diving large vehicles in two harbors, ship rock and blue cove. If you time it right, the surface current can be delt with. Fortunatly too, deeper down there is substantially less current, it was very workable from a sub, but I'm super excited to see how it goes with an observation class ROV.

Exciting project! If you find something and you need help with underwater photogrammetry, please let me know.

Sounds pretty cool! Let us know if you come up the coast a bit more (or up to the more northern islands!)

@benoitduverneuil what are you using primarily for underwater photogrammetry now? do you use an Iphone in a case or gopro footage imported?

Hey there Patrick!!
Hope you are well!!
Loving your work!!
You are a man after my own heart!!
I too am using the ROV and a Phantom drone.. just waxed the plastic and bought the daddy of drones (The Inspire)
I lost my original phantom whilst drunkenly trying to film a penumbral eclipse very high above the clouds!!)
I'm interested in the fact you to are trying to monitor salinity in the search of springs etc!!
I too am doing this as I believe I have found an ancient well that seems to be fed by a 'man' made underground aquifer between Wales and an ancient island.
I suspect an ancient desalination plant so I'm sending the ROV down there..
Also water ways have a very close association with Ley lines.. I'm convinced the ancients used very high AC voltages and transmitted / cared electricity down these water ways!
I also suspect this island is also the true location of the mystical mythological Avalon.
I've been researching ancient Arthurian Legend for years!!
This might give me tangible facts.. I also have the university of London interested in my findings.
Soooo..
How are you monitoring brine salinity.. I've found cheap and cheerful monitors on eBay.. but you need to ensure it is corrected for temperature variations (most meters will do this).
I have a background as a Special Core Analyst .. I measure brine RW (Resistive values ) all the time.
Id be really really interested in how you are planning to data log these measurements !!
Best of luck anyways!!
Cheers buddy!!

Hey all, sorry for the delay with the updates in this expedition, life got in the way!

@captain_curt: Because this research that we are doing is through the University of Southern California (USC) we are based out of the Wrigley Institute which is about a 10 minute car ride from Two Harbors. Additionally the ROV seems to to be able to hand the currents fine since we are mainly flying it in coves and semi protected bodies of water.

@BenoitDuverneuil: Thanks for the offer for the help with the photogrammetry work. Currently we are in the testing phase of things, but hopefully soon we will be making some models.

@paolo_leonardo: I'm glad that you too are super excited about this. It's amazing how many exploration sites are in our own back yard. I'm not well briefed on the island mythology but I know there is a lot of history on the island with regards to the original native inhabitants. We are monitoring the salinity by using solinst levelogger sensors. They are intended to measure salinity in wells but they should also work on an ROV. They can be quite expensive, however they have a long battery life and high accuracy.

Hi there Patrick..
Thanks for the info..
I'll look up the sensors.. have you worked out how to integrate this data into a live feed??
Also loving your work with the quad copter..
There's a few interesting forum topics about using stereo go pros to 3D map topography..
I too need to do this!!
It is indeed exciting!
Indiana Jones eat your heart out!! :)

Hang on!!
There is also a place called Avalon on your island??
Interesting??!!
I suspect that there were multiple Avalons / garden of Edens!!

Is there an legends of an ancient apple tree on the island??

sorry are there!

@palo_leonardo There is definitely a wealth of info with regards to structure from motion models on OpenExplorer. We are in the process of using some of them with an OpenROV. The sensors themselves can only have a live data feed when a cable is run from them into a laptop. However to us, having a the GPS coordinate of where the data was taken is far more important. Thus, we are in the process of coding an Arduino with a GPS shield to take regular coordinate measurements.