Craters, Coral Heads, and Capitol Ships: The Submarine Landscape of Bikini Atoll


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Mapping Crossroads: Archaeological and High Resolution Documentation of Nuclear Test Submerged Cultural Resources at Bikini Atoll" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

An expedition to Bikini Atoll conducted the first comprehensive sonar survey of the target area from Operation Crossroads that detonated two nuclear weapons against a moored fleet of warships. In addition to documenting the 12 shipwrecks sunk by the two blasts, this work identified a series of other landscape features including coral heads. The crater from the underwater explosion of Test Baker dominates the landscape and three of the shipwrecks are within its perimeter, one of which, the Japanese cruiser Sakawa, was blasted into the sediment by the detonation. Sonar and diver photography further documented the condition of many of the ships sunk: aircraft carrier USS Saratoga and Japanese battleship Nagato have buckling along the hull from the underwater concussive blast, and the submarine USS Pilotfish was crumpled as if squeezed by a large hand. This comprehensive mapping effort produced the first landscape view of the simulated battlefield.

Cite this Record

Craters, Coral Heads, and Capitol Ships: The Submarine Landscape of Bikini Atoll. Michael L. Brennan, Art Trembanis, James P. Delgado, Carter DuVal. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457074)


Temporal Keywords
Cold War World War II

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 480