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Seafloor Mapping in Coastal Massachusetts—How Enhanced Network Infrastructure Facilitates Data Management and Collaboration with Project Partners

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High-resolution bathymetric map of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard SoundAbove: High-resolution bathymetric map of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts, constructed from data collected as part of the USGS-CZM Coastal Mapping Program (including several hydrographic-survey datasets from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). [larger version]

Oblique view of bathymetric map
Above: Oblique view of bathymetric map, looking northward from Menemsha, Massachusetts (on Martha’s Vineyard). [larger version]

Another round of seafloor mapping off Massachusetts was completed in May-June 2010 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in cooperation with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). The geophysical survey took place in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, where more than 330 km2 (127 mi2) of the seafloor were mapped with swath-bathymetry, sidescan-sonar, and seismic-reflection systems. Approximately 780 gigabytes of raw geophysical data were collected, and more than 650 gigabytes of processed data were generated while at sea. Since its inception in 2003, the USGS-CZM cooperative program has mapped the seafloor geology of approximately 2,000 km2 (772 mi2) offshore of Massachusetts during more than a dozen USGS field activities yielding tens of terabytes of data, including data contributed by various partners.

To handle such extremely large datasets, the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center participates in the Woods Hole collaborative science network—a computing infrastructure partnership between several world-renowned scientific institutions in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The Woods Hole collaborative science network is joined, by way of fiber-optic interconnectivity, to numerous additional research institutions throughout the Northeast, enabling extremely fast (gigabits per second) network speeds and virtually unlimited bandwidth. This partnership provides us with the computing ability to:

  • access the survey data (approximately 1.5 terabytes from the May-June cruise) and transfer it from our offsite Marine Operations Facility to the seafloor-mapping group's data server upon completion of the fieldwork,
  • allocate and transfer data to individuals responsible for post-survey processing,
  • transfer raw and processed datasets to our Federal, State, academic, and other partners, and
  • receive similarly large datasets from our partner agencies.

Also, our advanced networking capability and computing infrastructure are vital when we are in the field, allowing us to communicate with shore-based USGS staff for support and near-real-time data-quality control, as well as to contact software and hardware vendors when technical issues arise. This collaborative network has often eliminated the need to return to port, thereby saving time and money and greatly increasing productivity at sea.

As part of the USGS-CZM cooperative mapping program, we have also worked collaboratively to share relevant data and resources with other research organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Massachusetts Geographic Information System, the University of New Hampshire, Boston University, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the University of Massachusetts, the Sea Education Association, the Nature Conservancy, and many other nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit organizations, and private industry. There is a noticeable difference in the ease and speed of data exchange between colleagues in the collaborative science network (or a similar ultra-high-speed trusted network) relative to those working on "standard" or otherwise restricted networks.

Learn more about the USGS-CZM cooperative mapping program at http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/coastal_mass/, and about the May-June 2010 mapping (Field Activity 2010-004-FA) at http://quashnet.er.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/datasource/public_ds_info.pl?fa=2010-004-FA. Learn more about the seafloor-mapping systems used during the recent fieldwork at http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/operations/sfmapping/.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Massachusetts Sea-Floor Mapping Project Expands to South Shore and Cape Cod Bay
Nov. / Dec. 2006
High-Resolution Geologic Mapping of the Shallow Sea Floor off Massachusetts
Dec. 2003 / Jan. 2004

Related Web Sites
Geologic Mapping of the Seafloor Offshore of Massachusetts
Woods Hole Science Center Sea-floor Mapping Technology
Summary Information for Field Activity 2010-004-FA

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cover story:
Sea Otter Numbers Drop

Prehistoric Tsunamis and Great Earthquakes

Seafloor Mapping in Coastal MA

ResearchUnlocking Model Data via Web Services

Outreach Antarctic Science and the Cultural Arts

Staff Internship in Everglades National Park

Mendenhall Fellow to Study Sediment Fluxes

New Mendenhall Fellow in Woods Hole

Publications Dec. 2010 Publications

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