Staff from the N.C. Underwater Archaeology Branch conducted a three-day expedition at the QAR site this week and focused on a new “in situ” method of conservation that begins the process while artifacts are still on the ocean’s bottom.
Skinny aluminum rods called sacrificial anodes were attached to several anchors and a cannon to change the electrochemical process that corrodes iron in saltwater, reducing or even reversing the amount of salts absorbed by the iron objects, said QAR Project Director Mark Wilde Ramsing.
He said they’ve tested the process and it seems to be working. And by beginning conservation under water, they can potentially save time and space at the conservation lab.
In the lab, it can take up to five years to remove salts from a large cannon using electrolysis.
“Hopefully this will reduce the time by several years,” Wilde Ramsing said. “It’s a fairly experimental and if nothing else, it will help to stop the artifacts from continuing to corrode.”