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A new diver-held tool that directly measures the total magnetic gradient using a single total-field magnetometer sensor, for locating buried ferrous objects in magnetically challenging environments
  • Doug Hrvoic
Doug Hrvoic
Marine Magnetics Corporation

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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A new diver-held magnetometer has been developed that directly senses the total magnetic gradient as a scalar quantity, independent of the orientation of the device. It therefore provides a direct signal if a magnetic (e.g. ferrous) object is in its vicinity, regardless of other ambient geomagnetic effects. The small (7cm diameter x75cm length), battery-powered device is neutrally buoyant, and provides a simple and intuitive audio interface to the diver. The device was field tested in July 2019 during the Lost Ships of Cortés Project offshore Villa Rica, Mexico, an area with strong underlying volcanic geology and large quantities of magnetic sediment that mask buried archaeological materials. Magnetic anomalies were recorded during boat-towed total-field magnetometer surveys, but divers could not identify their source using traditional underwater metal detectors. The new magnetometer decisively and precisely guided divers to an early 16th-century anchor at a range of several meters that was completely buried in magnetite-rich sand with its shallowest point at 50cm below the sea floor.