Experts to identify mystery wreck

By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THE EPA is to call in the help of maritime experts to identify the age of a mystery shipwreck discovered in Gladstone waters recently.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already conducted Radiocarbon testing without success and is now using a process called emission spectography on metal samples from the ship's bolts to try to date the vessel's age.

The agency provided information in response to a request by The Gladstone Observer based on rumours the ship might be 'a very ancient vessel of great significance'.

The EPA said little remained of the wreck which was discovered by a Gladstone local who did not want to discuss the find publicly.

It did not disclose the whereabouts of the site or speculate on its possible origins.

Talk of ships, possibly of Spanish or Portuguese or other origins, visiting the Australian coastline predating Cook's discoveries occasionally make the rounds, and Gladstone also has had a share of such rumours.

The supposed visit by the Spaniard De Quiros to Gladstone in the early 1600s is the most well known, but has long been discounted.

So far the EPA has established that the timber from the vessel was Spruce, a common northern hemisphere timber widely used in wooden ship- building.

A spokesman for the EPA said the information collected would be reviewed by a maritime archae- logist 'to match the information to what is known about ships' metallurgy through history'.

He said the skills of a number of experts would also be sought to assist in the identification. Gladstone is host to a number of shipwrecks dating from the mid-1800s.



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