Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sunken Wartime Submarines but What More Dangerous Hazards Lurk Beneath the Black Sea?

Soviet Era Detritus Could Pose an Environmental Risk Say Scientists
Shipping News Feature

BLACK SEA – WORLDWIDE – As vessels ply their trade around the globe a captain and crew rarely give a thought to what may lie below on the seabed, apart from the presence of potentially dangerous wrecks and shoals. This week however we are asked to consider what other man-made detritus may be present which could have hidden, but dangerous, environmental effects.

At the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) Congress earlier this year senior geophysicist Dr Radu Dimitriu, a researcher at the International Institute for Marine Geology and Geo-ecology in Romania (GeoEcoMar), presented evidence that he and his team have found a submarine off the coast of Romania, in the Black Sea.

The scientists postulate that is likely to be a German U Boat from World War l, and therefore a war grave which deserves further investigation and the proper treatment by the authorities concerned. This however is only one of the points brought forth during the discussions.

The IAAM is one of the largest communities of advanced materials researchers and host to its ‘Knowledge Experience at Sea’ in four continents including Europe, Asia, USA and Oceania. For the past five years this practical, but fun, idea has seen a bevy of scientists board a cruise ship for a multi-day cruise during which they can lecture, network and generally exchange ideas and information, often stretching into the night and therefore have more intense discussions than a conventional land based event generally allows.

Dr Dimitriu’s concerns however stretch further than century old weapons and munitions. The worry is that later debris may be infinitely more problematical. He comments:

”We are looking for Russian submarines from World War II, but also other objects. During the Communist years, Soviets, and Romania as well, used the Black Sea as a garbage dump and for the disposal of dangerous waste. We are trying to see if we can identify these dumping sites to make an inventory of what is down there, what kinds of materials and if they are safe or dangerous. For this, we have to make new teams with other expertise like geochemists and archaeologists. We all have to work together.”

To this end the IAAM says its science cruises and Advanced Materials Congress, is open for institutions in academy and industry as well as individuals in these fields to participate and share their thoughts and expertise. The not for profit operation says it aims to create global forums for education and spreading of research within the rapidly expanding fields around advanced materials, with founder, Dr Ashutosh Tiwari, saying:

”It’s very positive that our congresses serve as a science hub where different fields of research meet and learn from each other. We will see more collaborations between different fields of research in the future.”

Photo: A diver examines the wreck of the World War l submarine HMS E5 found in waters off the Dutch coast 73 years after her demise.