Melanie is a Marine Archaeologist and the Environmental Studies Coordinator for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) Gulf of Mexico Region office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Melanie earned BS (1998) and MA (2002) degrees from FSU, both focusing in marine archaeology. For her Master's thesis, she developed a model for designing shipwreck surveys near barrier island settings. The model considered the historical record for shipwreck losses; local geomorphology; rates of sediment erosion and accretion; historic maps, nautical charts, and aerial photography; and historic shoreline changes to postulate where barrier island shorelines were located when a particular shipwreck was lost in its vicinity. During her graduate career, she served as a Crew Chief and then Field Director for several of FSU's underwater archaeology field schools and as a Teaching Assistant for the ANT 4131 class, "Techniques of Underwater Site Research," in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Melanie also participated during the final 3 years of the Aucilla River Prehistory Project (1997-99), a project run by the Florida Museum of Natural History that investigated several submerged prehistoric sites in the Aucilla and Wacissa Rivers (see the Page-Ladson gallery for pictures of the current field work).
Though she has worked on submerged prehistoric sites in Florida and has done terrestrial archaeology throughout the southeast, Melanie's primary interest and area of expertise is historic shipwrecks. She has worked on shipwrecks ranging in depth from Florida's shallow rivers and bays to several thousand feet in the Gulf of Mexico. She has also conducted remote sensing surveys and participated in Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) investigations of deepwater shipwrecks. Her experience includes investigating sites dating from the 16th century Spanish colonial period to World War II casualties in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. She also conducted a marine archaeological survey of a Mayan port site in Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala and most recently volunteered on the Lost Ships of Henry Morgan project in Panama.
In the summer of 2014 she was in the Gulf of Mexico during the Gulf of Mexico Shipwreck Corrosion, Hydrocarbon Exposure, Microbiology, and Archaeology (GOM-SCHEMA) study. The project webpage is: http://mbac.gmu.edu/mbac_wp/gulf_wrecks/ while the BOEM page dedicated to the project and containing similar information is here: http://www.boem.gov/GOM-SCHEMA/.
My bureau, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, is funding a study of Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts on shipwrecks that includes a 3-D laser scanning component. Our contractor, C&C Technologies, collected 3-D laser scans of several deepwater shipwrecks using their AUV. We also employed a 3-D acoustic scanner mounted on an ROV for more targeted scanning of select features on the wrecks. The purpose of collecting these 3-D datasets is to allow my bureau to conduct long-term monitoring of the wrecks and to quantify their degradation over time.
The project webpage can be viewed at: mbac.gmu.edu/mbac_wp/gulf_wrecks/
We'll be presenting the results of the study, including the 3-D imagery, at the upcoming Society for Historical Archaeology conference in Seattle.