Old School Hydrology

Old School Hydro: Modern and Historic Surveying Aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 4

3:00 p.m.

Alderman Library Scholars’ Lab

Max Edelson

Associate Professor

Corcoran Department of History

University of Virginia

During the summer of 2010, U.Va. historian Max Edelson gained a berth aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as it charted the waters off the western Keys of Florida. For a week, he learned about modern coastal surveying and hydrography first hand and interviewed the TJ’s officers and scientists about their experiences using sonar-based sensing to measure the extent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. To better get a grasp on the first rigorous colonial surveys of Florida created in the 1760s and 1770s, he enlisted some of the crew to recreate early modern methods by tracing the contours and measuring the depths of a harbor in Key West. When asked what they were up with their lead lines and sextants by puzzled crew mates, they replied, “We’re off to do some old-school hydro.” This talk describes the art and science of surveying and mapmaking in and around the Florida Keys across 250 years.

All Scholars’ Lab events are free and open to all. No registration is required.

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