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On 28 April 1656, the Vergulde Draak was shipwrecked on the Western Australian shore after it struck a reef north of the present-day town of Seabird. This article presents the results of an investigation in the vicinity of the wreck site to identify any potable water resources for the sustenance of the 68 survivors. From historical documents it is known that hardly any provisions could be rescued from the ship, so the survivors were reliant on finding water on land. There is no surface water in the immediate vicinity of the wreck. The chemical characteristics of three intertidal springs, as well as the Indian Ocean, were documented. Enough freshwater discharged from two of the three springs to cause a decrease of the salinity and pH, and an increase of the temperature, of the ocean water over a distance along the shore of 100 m. The chloride concentrations of the springs ranged between 3 and 6.5 g/L, and the shipwreck survivors might have resorted to drinking this brackish water. It is also possible that they collected rainwater or tried to dig a well in the dunes, where slightly brackish groundwater was found during the present study. Only future archaeological discoveries can provide certainty, but, albeit suboptimal, the beach offered at least some water resources for a survivor camp.
|Translated title of the contribution||The intertidal springs near the Vergulde Draak 1656 wreck site, Western Australia: hydrogeological characteristics and archaeological significance|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2020|
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Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties: A Maritime Archaeological Reassessment of Some of Australia's Earliest Shipwrecks
1/01/13 → 31/12/15