Watts Up With That?

Guest opinion by Dr. Tim Ball |

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper proudly announced discovery of one of Captain John Franklin’s ships, either the Erebus or Terror. Identification, of which ship will be relatively easy, based on the known dimensions of the vessels (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Erebus and Terror; sketch in the London Illustrated News May 24, 1845

Source: Illustrated London News/Getty Images

The discovery is important, but inevitable, given the known approximate position where they sank. It is surprising both ships were not discovered because they were locked in the ice close to each other. Good condition of the ship is not surprising, although ice damage is evident. Once on the bottom, where the water is constantly very cold, they would not suffer much organic damage. They are also below the depth where surface ice could cause damage, as it did with Jens Munk’s ship sunk in Churchill…

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