Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000
They had at least two of these sounding weights, but lost them both
due to broken wires at various points along the way. At some point they
started improvising with weights. In any case, they will be hard to find (on
the ocean bottom).
It might be interesting to look into whether the wire itself would still
exist. I think in deep water, oxidation is very slow because there is
not much oxygen dissolved in the water. If the wire is intact, it might be
spread out over a fairly large area. (As I recall, the broken off part was
over 2500 meters long.) Although the wire is very thin(.028" diameter, as I
recall), and would not have much magnetic signature by itself, it might be
possible to induce a current in the wire and detect the corresponding
magnetic influence. Of course, one might also find the wire by visual
(remote camera) inspection.
The wire, because of its length, would probably be easier to find than
the weights (if the wire is still intact). Having to search through the
ice means that, even if a fairly good sensor could be developed, it could
not be towed by a ship or helicopter, but would have to be self-propelled.
These tend to be slow, and would take a long time.
For example, if we think we know the location of Peary's sounding within
three nautical miles, the area to be searched is about a billion square
feet. A sensor that moves at two feet per second (about 1.2kt) and searches
a path 6 ft wide, covers 12 sq ft/sec, and would take almost 1000 days (24
hr/day) to search the area. That is why I think looking for a small object
with a camera is not terribly feasible.
On the other hand, if the orientation of the wire can be estimated based on
knowledge of the currents, a sensor could make tracks perpendicular to the
orientation of the wire at fairly wide intervals (say every 1/10th mile).
This would require 60 passes of 6 miles length to cover a six by six mile
grid. This is a total of 360 miles, which at 1.2 kt would take about 300
hours. I think if there is reason to believe that the wire still exists and
a sensor could be developed to detect it, it should be feasible to find the
wire. These are two big ifs.
Assuming a sensor is developed, perhaps you could get the ice-breaker that
takes rich tourists to the North Pole to spend a day or so searching on each
trip, to give the tourists something to talk about. Well, enough of this.