After spending 45 days on Rockall – a granite islet in the North Atlantic Ocean – Nick Hancock gathered sufficient information to show that the rock is lower, and therefore smaller, than officially recorded. The remote islet was found to have a mean above-sea-level-height of 17.15m – some 0.85m below the previous estimate.
In June and July, Hancock – a chartered surveyor – occupied Rockall in a record-breaking feat to gather data. While there, he connected to satellites and Ordnance Survey radio stations in order to update United Kingdom Hydrographical Office records – which had not been updated circa 1977 – relating to the position and height of Rockall.”Nick’s occupation of Rockall for such a long time is a fantastic achievement and Ordnance Survey was happy to be involved with advice and data processing facilities,” said Mark Greaves, OS satellite positioning expert, in a statement to BBC News.
In the course of his occupation, the Edinburgh native installed a fixed permanent survey marker on the summit plateau of the rock. According to BBC, recent coordinates are said to have pinpointed the islet’s position with an exactness of within two centimeters.
“The satellite positioning data that Nick recorded on Rockall was of high quality and it enabled the island’s position to be determined to just a few centimetres,” Greaves explains. “This provided a very useful check on the official chart position of Rockall.”
Hancock’s up-to-date reports on the rock’s location – 30 miles off the Western Isles – mark a slight difference from those of nearly 40 years ago: a 1.3m in an east/west direction and 0.3m in a north/south direction. The modest variation in position means that his initial goal of “relocating” Rockall was not fully accomplished—nevertheless, not all is lost.
“I had hoped that my survey results might significantly relocate Rockall,” Hancock admitted in a statement. “But being able to finally establish the true height of the rock means that my time spent there has even greater long-term significance than just breaking the previous occupation records and raising funds for Help for Heroes.” An estimated $10,000 for the UK military charity was raised during his month and a half in the Atlantic.