IU scientists to help in 'Santa Maria' exploration

(photo by Brandon Clifford/AP)
An Indiana University scientist will help lead the team investigating what could be a major historic find.

Researchers think a pile of rocks in the ocean off the coast of Haiti could be waht's left of the famed ship "Santa Maria," once captained by Christopher Columbus. Explorer Barry Clifford said evidence suggests the wreckage is the ship, which hit a reef and sunk in 1492.

The director of IU's Office of Underwater Science and Academic Diving, Charles Beeker, was already in that region overseeing another project.

"I'm not going to say it's absolutely the Santa Maria, but I'm pleased that Indiana University is involved in going to help prove what it is and I hope it turns out to be what we suspect," Beeker told Eyewitness News in a Skype interview from the Dominican Republic. "If it turns out to be proven scientifically to be the Santa Maria, it's one of the most important shipwrecks in the world."

Beeker said IU underwater researchers will conduct a full investigation of the site as early as this summer.