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For an electrochemist from Australia, Ian MacLeod knows a lot about the battleships and fighting machines of the United States Civil War and World War II. His conservation-related work with military relics, including some in Virginia, will be the subject of his presentation in November for Old Dominion University's College of Sciences Distinguished Visitors Lecture Series.

"Cape Hatteras to Pearl Harbor: Saving America's Iron Shipwreck Heritage" is the title of the lecture he will give at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in 101 Mills Godwin Jr. Building. Refreshments precede the lecture at 2:30.

MacLeod, executive director for collections management and conservation for the Western Australian Maritime Museum, has consulted with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Mariners' Museum in Newport News concerning the conservation of the USS Monitor.

He also is studying and helping to conserve the wealth of World War II Japanese wrecks in the waters off Chuuk (formerly Truk) in Micronesia, and his research extends to the USS Arizona, which was sunk at Pearl Harbor.

As a scientist, MacLeod is interested in all types of decay, but metals and corrosion are his focus. He is an innovator in evaluating degraded interfaces between an artifact and the environment. His studies involve scuba diving on underwater wrecks, but also he is a consulting conservator for ancient Aboriginal rock art on dry land in Australia.

Although most of the Monitor-conservation media reports have been about the pieces of the Civil War ironclad and onboard items that have been raised from the waters off Cape Hatteras, most of the vessel remains on the ocean's bottom. MacLeod is one of the world's leading authorities on corrosion assessments of in situ relics such as this.

Desmond Cook, the ODU professor of physics (dcook@physics.odu.edu) who has collaborated on the Monitor conservation work and who is coordinating the MacLeod lecture, said a segment of the visiting scientist's talk will be about the wreckage from a major-but little known-battle in the South Pacific in 1944. In Operation Hailstone, an armada of American ships and aircraft attacked Japanese naval and air bases in the Truk archipelago, destroying a dozen warships, more than 30 merchant ships and 250 airplanes. Sunken ships and airplanes resting at depths of 30-200 feet form an underwater mecca for divers, Cook said.

To help preserve the wrecks, and the tourist industry in this region of Micronesia, MacLeod is researching ways to keep the wrecks from rusting away, or becoming too dangerous for divers.

MacLeod's in situ corrosion studies enable those managing the wreck sites to preserve this unique memorial to the Battle of the Pacific, Cook said.
On Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at The Mariners' Museum, MacLeod will deliver another public lecture, "Confederate and Union Forces Unite to Conserve America's Historic Iron Shipwrecks." (For details, see http://argon.physics.odu.edu/seminars/.) The talk will focus on conservation of the Monitor and the Confederate iron submarine H. L. Hunley, which was sunk in the harbor of Charleston, S.C., in 1864 and was raised in 2000.

The Mariners' Museum will open its new Monitor Center next year featuring a replica of the ironclad and numerous pieces-including the turret, guns, engine and propeller-that have been raised from the wreck site during the last two decades (www.monitorcenter.org).

The Hunley is at the Warren-Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston.

MacLeod's visitor's lecture is the fourth of seven in the 2006 series. His lecture, and others in the series, are co-sponsored by the newly formed ODU Consortium for Maritime Research, an interdisciplinary effort to match research strengths of the university with research opportunities of this seacoast region.

Consortium leaders other than Cook include Richard Gregory, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Joseph Rule, interim dean of the College of Sciences; Larry Atkinson, eminent professor and Samuel and Fay Slover Professor of Oceanography; Maura Hametz, associate professor of history; Wayne Talley, eminent scholar and professor of economics; and Anna Jeng, assistant professor of community and environmental health.

This article was posted on: October 18, 2006

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