Archaeologically, marine sites can be just as significant as those on land. Until recently, however, they were not protected in the UK to the same degree, leading to degradation of sites; the difficulty of investigating such sites still makes it problematic and expensive to properly describe, schedule and monitor them. Use of conventional high-resolution survey tools in an archaeological context is changing the economic structure of such investigations however, and it is now possible to remotely but routinely monitor the state of submerged cultural artifacts. Use of such data to optimize expenditure of expensive and rare assets (e.g., divers and on-bottom dive time) is an added bonus. We present here the results of an investigation into methods for monitoring of marine heritage sites, using the remains of the Imperial German Navy (scuttled 1919) in Scapa Flow, Orkney as a case study. Using a baseline bathymetric survey in 2001 and a repeat bathymetric and volumetric survey in 2006, we illustrate the requirements for such surveys over and above normal hydrographic protocols and outline strategies for effective imaging of large wrecks. Suggested methods for manipulation of such data (including processing and visualization) are outlined, and we draw the distinction between products for scientific investigation and those for outreach and education, which have very different requirements. We then describe the use of backscatter and volumetric acoustic data in the investigation of wrecks, focusing on the extra information to be gained from them that is not evident in the traditional bathymetric DTM models or sounding point-cloud representations of data. Finally, we consider the utility of high-resolution survey as part of an integrated site management policy, with particular reference to the economics of marine heritage monitoring and preservation.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

U.S. Hydrographic Conference

Conference Date

May 14 - May 18, 2007

Publisher Place

Norfolk, VA, USA


Hydrographic Society of America

Document Type

Conference Proceeding