May 16, 2019
On May 10, 2019, the Bureau of Ocean Management launched its publicly accessible Virtual Archaeology Museum. The platform showcases interactive 3D models of shipwrecks created using imagery collected during missions led by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. This collaboration has led to the documentation of an array of 19th-20th century shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic over the last several years.
To create the models, the Okeanos Explorer’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) films while being piloted over the survey site in a gridded pattern that captures 80 percent image overlap in four directions. The ROV also records additional angles to ensure that a geometrically accurate 3D model of the wreck can be created. The video data is then run through photogrammetry software which stitches the images together, creating highly detailed, photorealistic models of the sites.
These models serve as a baseline of information about the conditions of these wrecks and allow a broader audience of scientists, researchers, and the public to access and interact with these remote sites from their own computers.