Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rumors of Parks Canada Franklin Search

It's that time of year again when -- despite what has been for the most part a more open, accessible, and timely release of materials from the Parks Canada teams involved with the Franklin search -- we once again must strain to garner what faint rumors we can as to the nature and extent of this year's activities. Fortunately, we have the good reporting of Randy Boswell to rely upon; in a recent article posted to, Boswell outlines what he's learned so far. By his account, quiet preparations are already underway for a search this year, although PC haven't released any details yet as final agreements with private partners, as well as permits and (one supposes) funding have not yet been worked out. The logistics of sending a government expedition are daunting, and the relative expense of getting a team up there and in place during what is still a fairly small window of time, don't augur well for major progress -- it all seems to depend on whether, in the limited search area identified, searchers have the good fortune to find what so many have sought for so long without result.

There are, however, some hopeful signs; I have heard from a couple of Franklin buffs about the possibility that the Canadian government may be considering the use of LIDAR telemetry to narrow the range of targets, or (possibly) even locate the ships themselves, without having to dispatch a ground team at all. LIDAR (the name is an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging) uses lasers to create detailed maps of the surface or near subsurface features; NASA has already done some impressive work with its EAARL (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research LIDAR) in creating highly detailed 3D models of coastal features, including underwater topography. Such a system could, in theory at least, be used to obtain imagery from the region of King William Island which could include submerged features such as ships or debris fields. At the very least, it's an intriguing possibility.

In the meantime Ron Carlson -- assuming some co-operation from weather, local officials, and permits -- will soon be in Gjoa Haven making final preparations for his fly-over of key KWI sites using thermal sensing technology, in hopes that he may be able to identify the site of Franklin's grave. It could be a very interesting year indeed.

1 comment:

  1. I hope Parks Canada puts it together this year, and perhaps finds some money to check out the Grylls' find.