USGS - science for a changing world

Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Atlas of the Gulf of the Farallones Region, Central California

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We are responsible for conducting scientific investigations that are demonstrably focused on the national interest."
--Gordon Eaton, Director, U.S. Geological Survey. March, 1995

Overview of the Atlas


This atlas provides information on the physical setting and living resources of the Gulf of the Farallones and adjacent ocean waters.

Two principal economic and environmental management issues that are of importance to the Nation and that are relevant to the mission objectives of the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies are highlighted:

The atlas illustrates the value of seafloor mapping and oceanographic measurements offshore of the San Francisco Bay area, where the environmental and ecological concerns of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary must be reconciled with the human, economic, and industrial demands of a major urban population center.


Human Demands on the Ocean

Concerns about possible environmental damage to the world's oceans were expressed over 30 years ago.

The oceans are increasingly used as a source of inorganic resources, food, recreation, and as a repository for waste products.

With recent improvements in mapping and monitoring technology, the effects of the stress humans place on marine ecosystems are beginning to be understood by scientists and other users of marine information.

Filling the Need for Accurate Information

To assure that human activities do not interfere with or preclude other activities, policy makers must have the best scientific information possible to guide them in making wise choices concerning the use of the marine environment for the long-term good.

The USGS formed cooperative partnerships with other federal agencies to ensure the most efficient collection of marine geoscience data to address societal issues in the Gulf of the Farallones region of central California.

This scientific information, to be most effective, must be communicated in a timely way to scientists, the public, and those charged with management decisions concerning multiple use of offshore areas.

Many publications are already available on the results of the cooperative study.

This atlas is intended as a comprehensive summary of those results for a non-technical audience.


Some of the sections planned for the atlas are listed below. They summarize information gathered using various techniques, including acoustic mapping, sediment sampling, seafloor photography, and oceanographic measurement.

Return to the atlas page to view draft versions of some introductory pages.

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