Bren School OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & MANAGEMENT
2400 Bren Hall
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
August 14, 2003
BLACK SEA RESEARCH BROADCAST LIVE AT BREN SCHOOL
Santa Barbara, CA — A new world of educational possibilities was showcased on Thursday evening at UCSB. Streaming live video from the Mediterranean Sea featured world-renowned scientist Dr. Robert Ballard—the discoverer of the Titanic and the founder of the JASON project—broadcasting live from his research vessel and presenting up-to-the-minute research on his archaeological finds at the bottom of the Black Sea—including not only artifacts from shipwrecks that are thousands of years old and almost perfectly preserved, but also confirming evidence of a cataclysmic flood some 7,000 years ago that supports the Biblical Noah’s Flood story.
Seated in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management School’s state-of-the-art Colloquium Room, an audience of over 100 guests was captivated by the live images broadcast directly from Dr. Ballard’s research vessel. Audience members were able to ask questions directly of Dr. Ballard, which he answered. With a 10-hour time difference, it was 8:00 p.m. for the audience on Thursday evening and 6:00 a.m. Friday morning on Dr. Ballard’s ship. Fortunately, the broadcast was not affected by the massive power outage that occurred in the East and part of the Midwest on Thursday evening.
Prior to the broadcast, Dennis Aigner, Dean of the Bren School; Martin Moskovits, UCSB’s Dean of Science; Mark Brzezinski, Deputy Director of the Marine Science Institute; and UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang; introduced the project and Dr. Ballard. Dr. Tanya Atwater, Professor of Geological Sciences, gave a fascinating overview and slide presentation of the history of the Black Sea—which was originally a landlocked freshwater lake surrounded by farmland.
The Noah’s Flood theory, as propounded by Columbia University geologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan in their 2000 book entitled Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History, is as follows. Toward the end of the Ice Age, the vast sheets of ice that covered the Northern Hemisphere began to melt. This caused the Mediterranean Sea to swell about 7,600 years ago, and seawater pushed northward, slicing through what is now Turkey. Funneled through the narrow Bosporus, the water hit the Black Sea with 200 times the force of Niagara Falls. Each day the Black Sea rose about six inches (15 centimeters), and coastal farms were flooded. Ultimately, the level of the Black Sea increased by some 400 feet.
Dr. Ballard has made several trips to the area under the auspices of the National Geographic Society. A 1998 expedition discovered a series of features that appeared to be man-made structures. A 1999 expedition discovered an ancient shoreline and shells from both freshwater and saltwater mollusk species. The freshwater species ranged from 7,460 to 15,500 years in age; radiocarbon tests indicated that the inundation of the Black Sea occurred between 6,820 and 7,460 years ago. On this current trip, Ballard and his team are using sonar and remotely operated vehicles to confirm evidence of human inhabitation, exploring buildings, pottery, and ships.
What also makes the Black Sea an exceptional source of study is that its significant anoxicity—that is, lack of oxygen—acted as an excellent preservative of sea floor artifacts. The live footage on Thursday of about beautifully preserved clay amphorae from the cargo of a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea—shown from what seemed like only a few feet away, with an occasional eel and fish wriggling by—was clear and captivating.
UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and Marine Science Institute plan to host future streaming live video presentations to further enhance both classroom teaching and public presentations. This exciting technology brings fieldwork and the environment itself right to audiences who could not otherwise see or experience it—which not only contributes to the understanding and enrichment of a curriculum, but enables remote and long-distance learning.
Dr. Robert Ballard is a distinguished Adjunct Professor of Geological Sciences, and an alumnus (class of 1965). He has participated in more than 100 deep-sea expeditions, including exploration of the Mid Ocean Ridge; the discoveries of the Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, and JFK’s PT-100; and the Galapagos rift. He is also the founder and president of the JASON Project, an innovative, real-time science education program that reaches more than one million K-12 students each year. For more information about Dr. Robert Ballard’s expeditions to the Black Sea, please visit and www.nationalgeographic.com/blacksea/ and www.expedition2003.org
Alexandra Halsey, Bren School, (805) 893-5160, firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Oh, Mathematical, Life & Physical Sciences, (805) 893-7223, email@example.com