The debris that might possibly belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is currently being analysed in Toulouse, France. Barnacles found on the surface of the debris might shed light on the amount of time it remained underwater.
The former head of the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis, Jean Paul Troadec, has explained the approach of the experts in determining if there is any association between the debris found off the coast of Reunion Island and the MH370 aircraft.
The investigators first need to confirm the origin of the debris. Experts have already said that it is very likely to be a flaperon from a Boeing 777.
“If there is a reference number on the debris, a correlation can be made immediately,” Troadec explained.
The time period the fragment was left in the ocean also has to be measured.
One of the observations made concerning the debris is the presence of barnacles on its surface. These creatures are expected to be used to find out the amount of time it remained underwater.
“The seashells or barnacles will play an important role in determining how long this piece of plane has been submerged underwater,” Troadec said. “Seashells grow at a certain rhythm and depending on their size can tell investigators if they have been breeding 12 months or 2 years.”
In a statement to nbcnews, a phD student, from Griffith University, Australia, Ryan Pearson, said:-
“Barnacle shells … can tell us valuable information about the water conditions under which they were formed.”
Other organisms that might be present such as tube worms, coralline red algae or shellfish, will be searched on the debris. They could potentially provide additional information.
Another piece of information the investigators will be after is how the debris detached from its aircraft. Did it break off in the aftermath of an explosion? Or, was it at impact?
The analysis being done in France will hopefully answer these questions. Meanwhile, the search for the rest of the airplane is ongoing. Mauritius has also extended its help for the purpose.