August 4, 2014 – Zea Marina, Port of Piraeus, Athens (Greece)
After a spectacular passage through the Corinth Canal (July 28) and a stop in Eretria (July 31 to August 2) celebrating the 50th anniversary of Swiss archeological excavations in this region, the world largest solar-powered boat docked in the port of Piraeus yesterday afternoon.
This is the second stop on the itinerary of the TerraSubmersa scientific expedition, in collaboration with the University of Geneva (UNIGE), and the purpose is to explain the scientific objectives of this archeological mission, which will be launched on August 11 in the Argolic Gulf (Greece).
The ship will reprise her role as a scientific platform, lending her exclusive features in service of the UNIGE researchers, whose goal is to explore the prehistoric landscapes submerged by the water, in order to reconstruct them and identify any potential traces of human activity.
Yesterday, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar has reached the Port of Piraeus in Athens, her second stop in Greece as part of the TerraSubmersa expedition, which is a collaboration between UNIGE, the Neuchâtel Latenium, the Greek Service for Underwater Antiquities, the Swiss School of Archeology in Greece, and the Hellenic Center for Maritime Research. Like Eretria, Athens is a stop intended to emphasize the work that the archeologists will carry out in the Argolic Gulf from August 11 to 22, through public and private events.
This will allow the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar to continue to prove her uses, both as a platform for communication and events, and especially as a scientific platform. “PlanetSolar’s second life is not just an occasion to expand upon prestigious visits to New York, London, Paris, or Athens, or event for spectacular voyages like the crossing of the Corinth Canal, but it also offers the crew the pleasure of accomplishing the most diverse kinds of missions. Among these, TerraSubmersa, which is the highlight of our 2014 season, is certainly the most fascinating. The highly precise navigation we will need, together with the excitement of discovery… all in the magnificent setting of the Argolic Gulf.” declared Gérard d’Aboville, the ship’s captain, with great enthusiasm.
TerraSubmersa expedition: discovering submerged prehistoric landscapes
This Greco-Swiss expedition, led by Julien Beck, a researcher in the classical archeology department of UNIGE, aims to explore the prehistoric landscapes that have been submerged by the waters of the Argolic Gulf, in order to reconstruct them and to identify any potential traces of human activity.“Prehistoric underwater archeology and the study of ancient submerged landscapes are new fields of study in Greece,” Julien Beck explains. This research will allow archeologists to reconstruct landscapes that have vanished underwater, and to understand the interactions between prehistoric man and the sea.
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar will mainly be used to take geophysical measurements, which will allow the researchers to model the topography of ancient coastal zones, and to identify any potential traces of human activity. The Alkyon, a boat from the Hellenic Center for Maritime Research, will also be used for this work, which will be carried using state-of-the-art equipment (multi-beam sounder, lateral sweeping sonar, GPS, etc.). Subaquatic excavations will then be led by divers, thanks to a hydraulic aspirator which will remove a layer of protective silt from the site.
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, built in Kiel (Germany) is a catamaran powered exclusively by solar energy. On 4 May 2012, after 584 days of sailing and more than 60,000km sailed, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar completed the first trip around the world only powered by solar energy. After undergoing significant maintenance, the vessel left La Ciotat (France) on 8 April 2013 for the US coastline and began her second life, by being transformed into a scientific platform for the “PlanetSolar DeepWater” expedition. The purpose of that mission, in collaboration with the University of Geneva, was to collect an ongoing series of physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream, from both water and air using high-tech instruments. After this success, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar spent the winter at the Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly in Lorient (France). Included in the museum visits, the boat was open to the public and schools during her stay. In parallel, maintenance works were done.
Gérard d’Aboville, who captained the vessel during the 2013 campaign, is again at the helm of the Swiss solar boat for her 2014 expeditions. He will be assisted by Brieuc Delbot (first mate), Antoine Simon (electrical engineer) and Vincent Brunet (cook and steward), who were also part of the crew for the 2013 campaign.
About the University of Geneva
Founded in 1559 by Jean Calvin and Theodore de Beze, the University of Geneva is the second largest Haute école in Switzerland and is amongst the top 100 best universities in the world. The institution enjoys worlwide recognition and is highly opened to the world. Every year the University welcomes around 16 000 students in its nine faculties teaching science, medecine, humanities, economics and management, social sciences, law, theology, psychology and educational sciences, translation and interpreting. Classical archeology has been taught at the UNIGE for over 125 years. The University of Geneva has three missions: education, research and knowledge-sharing. The University has been a member of the League of European Research-intensive Universities since 2002. The TerraSubmersa expedition is under the patronage of the Hellenic National Commisison for UNESCO and Swiss Commission for UNESCO.
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