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Public Forum On Seafloor Mapping at the Ocean Explorium in New Bedford, Massachusetts

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Part of the exhibit area.
Above: Part of the exhibit area. [larger version]

A public forum titled “The Seafloor Revealed: What Lies Beneath the Massachusetts Coastal Ocean” was held at the Ocean Explorium in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on July 11, 2011. The forum was planned and presented as part of a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHSC), the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). Its purpose was to demonstrate to the public examples of USGS marine-geology and sediment-transport research being conducted in and around Massachusetts state waters, with particular emphasis on the long-term WHSC-CZM marine-geologic-mapping cooperative (see related articles in this issue: “Collaborative Seafloor-Mapping Program Completes Final Surveys off Massachusetts,” and “State and Federal Agencies Partner for Seafloor Sampling Survey off Massachusetts"). The goal of the multi-million-dollar cooperative effort, begun in 2003, is to produce high-resolution maps of the seabed and spatial data for use in a geographic information system (GIS) that will serve the needs of research, management, and the public (http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/coastal_mass/).

Project lead Bill Schwab provided an overview of the history of the project, the USGS research and mapping efforts, and the geophysical and sampling tools used to characterize the seafloor. Next came presentations from Todd Callaghan (CZM) and Kathryn Ford (DMF), who showed how the maps and data are being used by the state and why they are important for management of the state’s marine and coastal resources. Specific examples included planning activities related to the development of offshore liquefied-natural-gas facilities and pipelines, assessing the impacts of laying communication and power cables and developing offshore wind-turbine farms, fisheries management, and environmental monitoring. Schwab wrapped up the presentations by pointing out that the evolution of techniques we use to map the seabed and shallow subsurface has exponentially improved our ability to visualize seafloor characteristics at a level of detail we wouldn’t have dreamed of a decade ago. After the presentations, the public was free to roam among examples of our mapping efforts and derivative products.

A team of 11 USGS scientists and technologists attended the event, where they presented posters, animations, and the Geowall, a stereo-projection system used to illustrate spatial data in 3D. The team included Bill Schwab, Jane Denny, Seth Ackerman, Brian Andrews, Walter Barnhardt, Brad Butman, Soupy Dalyander, Bill Danforth, Dave Foster, Jeff Obelcz, Chris Polloni, and Page Valentine. Butman and Dalyander described work to develop indices of “seafloor mobility” (how frequently seafloor sediment moves) across the U.S. continental shelf, including Massachusetts coastal waters, based on the stress caused by currents and waves. These indices are useful for interpreting the seafloor geology and habitat, and for coastal and marine spatial planning (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/oceans/cmsp). Butman and Dalyander also presented “Bottom Stress in Action: Massachusetts Bay,” showing animations of sediment movement caused by northeast storms, and data and time-lapse movies of the seafloor obtained from instrumented tripods to better understand the processes that move sediment. Valentine presented his extensive work on habitat mapping on the banks and ledges in the Gulf of Maine, focusing on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. WHSC Sea Floor Mapping Group members Denny, Ackerman, Andrews, Danforth, Foster, Obelcz, and Polloni used visualization software (including the GeoWall 3D system) to provide interactive displays of offshore areas, giving visitors a hands-on immersive experience with the data. The entire forum, which was set up in 1 hour and taken down in 30 minutes for return to the WHSC, was the first in what is likely to be several similar forums to be presented in the coming year in Boston and Provincetown.


Related Sound Waves Stories
Collaborative Seafloor-Mapping Program Completes Final Mapping Surveys off Massachusetts
Jan. / Feb. 2012
State and Federal Agencies Partner for Seafloor-Sampling Survey off Massachusetts
Jan. / Feb. 2012

Related Web Sites
Geologic Mapping of the Seafloor Offshore of Massachusetts
WHSC Sea-floor Mapping Technology
Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
National Oceans Council

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cover story:
Arctic Expedition Reaches 88.5 Degrees North Latitude

Collaborative Seafloor-Mapping Program Completes Final Surveys

Seafloor-Sampling Survey off Massachusetts

Coral Reef Disease Hits Kāne'ohe Bay, Hawai'i

Climate Change Scenarios in California's Bay-Delta

"Hurricane" Movie and TV Series to Feature USGS Scientists

Public Forum On Seafloor Mapping at the Ocean Explorium

Working Sessions on Use Cases for Semantic-Web Development

Workshop on Fledermaus Software

Video Podcast Series Wins 2011 USGS Shoemaker Award

Staff Sedimentologist Arnold H. Bouma Passes Away

Publications Views of South San Francisco Bay Before Salt-Pond Restoration

Using Mangrove Peat to Study Ancient Coastal Environments and Sea-Level Rise

Jan. / Feb. 2012 Publications

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