Aerial view of the Pappy's Lane Shipwreck, Rodanthe.

The Coastal Studies Institute on Roanoke Island is an interesting place. A research center for the UNC system, the work the staff is doing there is at once cutting edge—they’re work is regularly published in scientific journals—yet very accessible.

The open house sponsored by CSI today was the accessible part of the mission…and it was fascinating. 

The range of projects originating from the staff and graduate students who are working with them is astonishing. 

One of the more easily understood projects is the excavation of the Pappy’s Lane Shipwreck from Hatteras Island.

Located off Pappy Lane, Rodanthe, the remains of the ship lay in shallow waters of Pamlico Sound. The ship has been identified as a WWII gunboat, although by the time it sank, probably in the 1960s its military days were long past.

The ship is much to deteriorated to salvage, but Dr. Nathan Richards, the resident marine archeologist, and his team have gone over the site thoroughly and have come to some remarkable conclusions. 

There will be a Science on the Sound presentation this Thursday, January 25, on the subject.

There were other equally interesting exhibits. 

A crowd pleaser was the sands of the world under a microscope. Magnified 100 times or so, what appears to the naked eye as almost indistinguishable, becomes extraordinarily diverse in a appearance.

Two areas that CSI has really taken the lead in are shoreline mitigation and shoreline processes. A series of overlay maps showing Roanoke Island in 1560, 1860 and highlighted how significant the changes are to the shoreline.

If there is one area, though, that CSI has really grabbed a scientific lead, it’s in research in how to tap the energy of the Gulf Stream. To say this is cutting edge research may be an understatement. Some of what the team looking at seems the stuff of science fiction.