MONTEREY, Calif., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A team of researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute were recently mapping fault lines near California's Monterey Bay when they came upon some sharp angles that seemed more ship-like than shifting tectonic plates.
When the geologists were done mapping the San Gregorio Fault, they sent a submersible -- a remotely operated vehicle known as Doc Ricketts -- to investigate further. Sure enough, their suspicions had been well founded.
Doc Ricketts' camera sent back video of its exploits, imagery that clearly showed the stern of the ship.
"Right on the stern, the first thing we saw was the name of the boat. It didn't take more than 30 seconds for someone to type it in, to Google search the name," Charles Paull, a geologist with MBARI, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
The barge's name was Umpqua II, and it hailed from Reedsport, Oregon. When it ran aground just off Moss Landing in 1982, it was hauled out into the ocean about 12 miles southwest of Santa Cruz, and sunk. Not exactly as exciting as a treasure-filled pirate ship, but a shipwreck nonetheless.
Though researchers have no immediate plans to revisit the ship, they say it could help them better understand how manmade objects decompose at such significant depths. Because there is so little oxygen where the barge rests, roughly a mile beneath the ocean surface, few marine life forms have taken advantage of the barge's shelter.