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Author Topic: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts  (Read 21452 times)

Joe Cerniglia

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Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« on: January 04, 2015, 07:42:51 AM »

Hi All,

I've been looking into some of the less well known artifacts from the Seven Site.  One of them that's intrigued me and some others on EPAC is a tiny blue foil.  I've puzzled over it for a while.  Lately, I've been thinking it might be part of a distress flare or some piece of a firework.

Attached is a summary of research on the piece.  It would be most helpful for persons with any experience in fireworks or military ordnance to review.  All are welcome to comment for additional research or skeptical inquiry, if so inclined.

Joe Cerniglia
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2015, 02:09:33 PM »

Joe,

That's a very nice report; looks like all the bases are covered.

I wonder if AE was using it (them) as fire-starters?  If so, there are probably others scattered around the various fire features at the Seven Site.  Something to look for on the next visit.
Bill Mangus
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2015, 07:19:58 PM »

Well, I certainly agree with the research note! In fact, even if the flare Mrs. Gill has bears no resemblance to this artifact, it would be worth fully photographing, measuring, and otherwise documenting her flare in case it becomes relevant to future research. (We have seen so many instances where TIGHAR wishes it knew the particulars of this or that item that was linked to the flight, but the information has since been lost ...)

Has any outreach been done with her to pursue this?
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 04:50:48 AM »

I agree, Jennifer.

Ric does too and has let me know he is on it.

Joe Cerniglia
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Roger London

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2015, 12:27:05 PM »

Great research with the flare artifacts Joe.
Whilst the flare might have been used attempting to attract attention, start a fire, illumination, anti-crab defense, gone off accidentally, is it possible, rather sadly, when life was almost gone might it have been a final deed?

When Joe mentioned the foil artifact was difficult to flatten, it gave thought to ‘why‘. It seems to be a fragment that one might expect to be internally burnt & blacked, yes; but why so badly distorted and seemingly violently ruptured, particularly if it was from a (blue) hand-held type? Who would want to ignite a flare expecting it to disintegrate or explode? Might this artifact be so distorted due to unsuitable deployment? Possibly ignited in a confined space (a box), perhaps if it became wet within? Or held against something (a crab, flesh), though not oxygen excluding, possibly causing excessive temperature and particularly high internal structure-destroying pressure, aka, catastrophic failure?
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Jerry Germann

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2015, 02:05:33 PM »

Well covered Joe,
                         One thing, I may have missed this, so, if it has been covered,... ignore. Was the bluish material found on the circular object analyzed?
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2015, 08:35:22 PM »

Great questions, Roger.
Whilst the flare might have been used attempting to attract attention, start a fire, illumination, anti-crab defense, gone off accidentally, is it possible, rather sadly, when life was almost gone might it have been a final deed?
If the Seven Site actually is what it appears to be, the last campsite of a castaway, then I would think that at least some of the artifacts, including the foil, by definition could be evidence of final deeds, yes.  This is part of what makes them, in my opinion, so interesting to study.

When Joe mentioned the foil artifact was difficult to flatten, it gave thought to ‘why‘. It seems to be a fragment that one might expect to be internally burnt & blacked, yes; but why so badly distorted and seemingly violently ruptured, particularly if it was from a (blue) hand-held type? Who would want to ignite a flare expecting it to disintegrate or explode?
Well, it's not known whether the foil was a flare or torch, but we do know beyond dispute it was highly flammable.  I can speculate (and do sometimes, against my better judgment).  Perhaps when hope of rescue had dimmed with the passing of days or weeks, any flammable item was used for keeping fires burning or starting them.  A hand torch, once burned out, could prove highly useful in this regard since some of the fuel within the cylinder might remain.  The green bottle we believe to be St. Joseph Liniment would have similar utility for starting fires (check out the ingredients on the last page of the link), as would, perhaps, the inverting eyepiece that may have been found with the bones

Might this artifact be so distorted due to unsuitable deployment? Possibly ignited in a confined space (a box), perhaps if it became wet within? Or held against something (a crab, flesh), though not oxygen excluding, possibly causing excessive temperature and particularly high internal structure-destroying pressure, aka, catastrophic failure?
All it takes is exposure to fire.  Watching this video of someone using a hand torch, I can imagine foil fragments burning a bit and shaking loose, especially if they were partly but not fully separated from the torch before lighting.  There are a lot of possibilities.  And again, we don't know it's from a torch. 

Joe Cerniglia
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« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 06:13:35 AM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2015, 08:39:12 PM »

Well covered Joe,
                         One thing, I may have missed this, so, if it has been covered,... ignore. Was the bluish material found on the circular object analyzed?

Jerry,

Glad you liked the research.

As far as I know from the communications I received, the bluish material has not been characterized by a lab.

Joe Cerniglia
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2015, 09:05:47 PM »

Ric has contacted the Gills, who graciously agreed to photograph the flare that Mr. Albasi stated was given to him by Amelia Earhart in Miami on the second world flight attempt in 1937.
I've attached 2 of these photos. 

Thank you, Mrs. Gill, and thank you, Ric.

This flare appears to be a standard 1-inch flare cartridge for a flare pistol.  As such, the diameter of the piece is too wide to match up with the small circular artifact with the bluish paste in the center, as shown on p. 1 of the paper.  There is no blue foil on the cartridge, either.

The hypothesis that the foil was part of a hand torch remains a credible possibility, albeit an unproven one, as does the possibility the artifacts might represent flare devices of a smaller bore, probably of the non-pistol type.  But we don't know if hand torches were carried aboard the world flight.

One interesting detail of note is that the Gills' flare is marked "Made in England."  Why would Earhart take the trouble of importing flares from England when they were widely available in the United States?   Puzzling.

It would be difficult not at least to remark on the fact that the Gill flare has a bluish aquamarine dot in the center of the sealing cap.  The diameter is wrong for matching up with the artifact with the blue paste in the center, but the fact remains that the specific aquamarine color and position of the color do line up between the artifact and the Gill flare, rather well.  Could flares of different sizes have been carried?  Could the outer edges of whatever the artifact used to be have rotted away, thus reducing its original diameter?

It's been credibly suggested also that the circular object with the blue center is the remnant of a dry cell battery.

Joe Cerniglia
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« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 07:12:41 AM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Jeff Lange

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2015, 07:29:56 AM »

Joe,

Is the measuring device in the photos in mm or inches?

Looking at the sample flare and the artifact, I can't miss the definite similarity to a shotgun shell.

Depending on the artifact size, and how it is speculated that the seven site has had a variety of visitors with different uses over the years, is there any record of a shotgun(s) having been on the island, either from the colonists, the officials from P.I.S.S., or the Coast Guard?

Just looking for any thread we have overlooked/ thinking outside of the box.
Jeff Lange

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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2015, 08:12:26 AM »

Is the measuring device in the photos in mm or inches?
Hi Jeff,

The units in the photos are in millimeters.

Depending on the artifact size, and how it is speculated that the seven site has had a variety of visitors with different uses over the years, is there any record of a shotgun(s) having been on the island, either from the colonists, the officials from P.I.S.S., or the Coast Guard?

Gallagher's inventory of personal items lists a .22 Colt automatic.

There were shell casings retrieved from the Seven Site as I recall, but I'll need to go back and inventory the specific kinds.  There is also the turtle plastron with what seems to be a .22 caliber bullet hole in the center.

On a personal note, I had the chance last summer at the TIGHAR Open House to speak with Dick Evans, who served on Nikumaroro in Coast Guard LORAN Unit 92 during World War II.  He said the only shooting he remembers doing was firing a pistol straight up into the air out of boredom near the base.  Of course, he wasn't speaking for his whole unit.

There is noise from firearm activity at the Seven Site.  My experience with excavated shell casings is decidedly limited.  But is it likely that the feature of the circular remnant  (bluish paste in the center) resembles a shell casing?

Joe Cerniglia
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Steve Lyle Gunderson

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2015, 09:57:10 AM »

The bluish coloring in the photos look to me like corrosion from brass or Copper. The blue dot (also corroded or oxidized) on the flare looks to be the primer that the flare pistol would strike when the flare is fired.
Steve G
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2015, 11:17:42 AM »

I don't think we,ve ever found a shotgun shell.  Several calibers of bullet casings including .22, .30, .303, and.45, but no shotgun shells.  There may have been one at the Loran station. 
We need to check with Ric and Tom King

The hole in the turtle plastron could also be a spear hole

Andrew
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Jeff Lange

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2015, 03:44:13 PM »

The bluish coloring in the photos look to me like corrosion from brass or Copper. The blue dot (also corroded or oxidized) on the flare looks to be the primer that the flare pistol would strike when the flare is fired.
These were my thoughts too- looks a lot like the brass end of one of the flare cases, with the softer parts worn/eaten away. My eye caught that the center looked like a struck primer of the shell.
Jeff Lange

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James Champion

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Re: Research on blue foil, some other artifacts
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2015, 08:48:42 PM »

Here is a YouTube video of someone lighting an old vintage wood-handle blue flare from the 20's or 30's.  This flare is of a type similar to the "MK 1 Navy Light" drawing shown in the "Possible Flare.pdf" Joe Cerniglia attached to the first post of this thread.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOJnHm4TmcE

In the video you can see clearly see the flare labeling and it appears to be similar to the  "Blue Foil" artifact. The "round bluish object" shown in the L2.03.06-07-2010 photos might be the renmants of the burnt ignition end of the flare.
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