SASMAP’s purpose is to develop new technologies and best practices in order to locate, assess and manage Europe’s underwater cultural heritage. SASMAP will take holistic and process-based approaches to investigate underwater environments and the archaeological sites contained therein. This is necessary regardless of whether or not investigations are research-driven or in connection with subsea development. Investigations of underwater heritage that are associated with subsea developments in Europe often require pre-disturbance studies to comply with the Treaty of Valletta (1992).
Within SASMAP a holistic approach will be taken to locating, assessing, monitoring and safeguarding underwater cultural heritage. This will involve developing and using tools and technologies to allow down-scaling from the large-scale regional level, moving on to the local site level and finally to the individual components of a site.
SSCS’s involvement is to provide a sustainable solution to the threat of damage to the heritage sites by underwater currents that cause sediment to be removed from the sites, exposing them and causing the seabed to become unstable.
This was completed using a new weighted edge frond mat, developed to remove the requirement for the standard anchors to be used, which posed a threat to parts of the sites that may still be buried. The weighted mats were deployed at three sites and the results were all positive, even in areas with fast-moving currents and rough tidal conditions.
SSCS frond mats have greatly reduced the current speed in the location of application. This is representative of the earlier results found during initial development of the frond mats in the 1980s, and demonstrates the effectiveness of the system and how it works to provide permanent protection from seabed currents and, as a result, scour.