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Geologic Mapping of Massachusetts Seafloor Includes USGS Summer Intern

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Danijela Vesovic on the deck of the research vessel Megan Mille
Above: USGS intern Danijela Vesovic on the deck of the research vessel Megan Miller off the Massachusetts coast. Behind her are David Foster (left) and William Danforth (right). [larger version]

Captain Brad Pimer, Brent Taylor, Emile Bergeron, Brian Andrews, and Dwayne Popkin
Above: (Left to right) Captain Brad Pimer, Brent Taylor, Emile Bergeron, Brian Andrews, and Dwayne Popkin launch a chirp seismic-reflection profiler, which will be towed behind the ship. The yellow pontoons allow for operations in shallow water by floating the system just below the sea surface. [larger version]

Personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, mapped approximately 350 km2 of seafloor in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound off Massachusetts in May and June 2009. The survey was part of a cooperative mapping project involving the USGS and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. The project's objectives are to provide a framework for scientific research and to develop geologic information for the management of coastal and marine resources. Generating accurate maps of seafloor geology and bathymetry are important first steps toward protecting benthic habitats, delineating marine reserves, and assessing environmental changes caused by natural or human impacts. Read more about this effort in "Massachusetts Sea-Floor Mapping Project Expands to South Shore and Cape Cod Bay," Sound Waves, November/December 2006.

The team used an interferometric sonar to map bathymetry (seafloor topography) and backscatter (intensity of sound energy reflected from the seafloor, which provides information about surficial materials); a sidescan sonar to collect additional backscatter data; and a chirp seismic-reflection profiler to map stratigraphy and structure (geometry of sub-seafloor layers). Marine technicians Emile Bergeron, Tom O'Brien, and Brent Taylor operated the three geophysical systems and ensured that the acquired data were of the highest possible quality. Barry Irwin set up and maintained a global-positioning-system (GPS) navigation station on shore.

Danijela Vesovic, a student intern from the City College of New York (CCNY), joined the mapping survey while it was underway. Vesovic has a B.S. in physics and is working toward an M.S. in Earth and atmospheric science, with a focus on linking groundwater resources with the geologic framework of the coastal zone. Her summer internship was made possible through a CCNY-USGS cooperative program designed to increase the diversity of the USGS workforce. Vesovic quickly adapted to shipboard life on the research vessel Megan Miller, standing regular 12-hour watches on the second leg of the cruise and processing acoustic data alongside David Foster, Bill Danforth, Wayne Baldwin, and Brian Buczkowski. The first leg of the cruise was staffed by researchers Walter Barnhardt, Brian Andrews, and Seth Ackerman.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Massachusetts Sea-Floor Mapping Project Expands to South Shore and Cape Cod Bay
November 2006

Related Web Sites
High-Resolution Geologic Mapping of the Sea Floor Offshore of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
State of Massachusetts

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Geophysical Survey Aids Virgin Islands Tsunami-Hazard Assessment

Drop in California Sea Otter Numbers

Geologic Mapping of Massachusetts Seafloor

USGS Maps Faults Offshore of Los Angeles

Research Beach Sand and Stomach Aches

Meetings Workshop on Data-Preservation Techniques

Publications September 2009 Publications List

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