2010 Expedition
Reddish crab, clinging to black rocks underwater

Eratosthenes Seamount

August 17 – 30, 2010

Eratosthenes Seamount, between Cyprus and the Nile Cone, is one of the largest subsurface features in the eastern Mediterranean. The elliptically-shaped seamount is 120 km long by 80 km wide and stands 2000 m above the surrounding abyssal plain. Eratosthenes Seamount is remarkable in that it is one of the only accessible examples of a continental fragment in collision with a subduction zone. 

Expedition NA008 focused on the geological and biological exploration of Eratosthenes Seamount to document the nature of erosion on top of the seamount to determine how much is related to dissolution vs. mechanical processes; image and selectively sample outcrops along canyon walls allowing documentation of the history of faulting; explore pockmark regions for evidence of active seeping and associated seep communities; and document biodiversity (including distribution of corals) along the summit.

Although the main objectives of the expedition were biological and geological, while exploring here in the center of the eastern Mediterranean Sea the team revealed two shipwrecks. Both wrecks had artifacts aging them to recent eras. Eratosthenes A carried a pair of iron grapnel anchors. Eratosthenes B contained an admiralty anchor attached to a chain and what appears to be a heavily concreted flintlock musket. As anchor chain was only introduced in recent times in the early nineteenth century, this gives a terminus post quem (time after which) for that wreck: the musket also suggests a nineteenth-century date within this context. A copper or bronze cauldron presumably served to cook the crew’s meals.

Selected Publications


Zvi-Kedem, T., Shemesh, E., Tchernov, D., & Rubin-Blum, M. (2021). The worm affair: Genetic diversity in two species of symbionts that co-occur in tubeworms from the Mediterranean Sea. bioRxiv


Ballard, B., Opait, A., Cornwell, K. (2018). Deep-Water Archaeological Discoveries on Eratosthenes Seamount. Deep Sea Research II 150: 4-21.
Brennan, M., Cantelas, F., Elliott, K., Delgado, J., Croff Bell, K., Coleman, D., Fundis, A., Irion, J., Van Tilburg, H., Ballard, R. (2018). Telepresence-Enabled Maritime Archaeological Exploration in the Deep. Journal of Maritime Archaeology 13(2): 97-121.


Brennan, M., Davis, D., Ballard, R., Trembanis, A., Vaughn, I., Krumholz, J., Delgado, J., Roman, C., Smart, C., Croff Bell, K., Duman, M., DuVal, C. (2016). Quantification of bottom trawl fishing damage to ancient shipwreck sites. Marine Geology 371: 82-88.


Brennan, M., Ballard, R. (2014). Archaeological Oceanography. Encyclopedia of Natural Resources : 604-608.
Rubin-Blum, M., Tsadok, R., Shemesh, E., Goodman-Tchernov, B., Austin, J., Coleman, D., Ben-Avraham, Z., Gruber, D., Tchernov, D. (2014). Distribution of the Lamellibrachia spp. (Sibogilnidae, Annelida) and their trophosome endosymbiont phylotypes in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Biology 161(6): 1229-1239.