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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

ARCHIVED: National Seafloor Mapping and Benthic Habitat Studies

Accurate base maps are a prerequisite for any scientific study, regardless of the objectives. Land-based studies commonly utilize aerial photographs, USGS 7.5-minute quadrangle maps, and satellite images as base maps. Until now, studies that involve the ocean floor have been at a disadvantage due to an almost complete lack of accurate marine base maps. Many base maps of the sea floor have been constructed over the past century but with a wide range in navigational and depth accuracies.

The nearshore benthic habitat supports a diversity of marine life that are commercially, recreationally, and intrinsically valuable. Some of these resources are known to be endangered including species of rockfish and shellfish. State and National agencies have been mandated to preserve and enhance these resources and require detailed habitat characterization in order to do so. The Seafloor Mapping and Benthic Habitat Studies Project of the USGS Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team maps the benthic habitat in areas that have been selected because they have been set aside as National Marine Sanctuaries, National Parks, State Fish Preserves, or are areas of ongoing or planned fish population studies.


Seafloor character map, Half Moon Bay, CA.

Seafloor character map, Half Moon Bay, CA.




See samples of our maps on the Seafloor Mapping web pages.


For additional information contact the project coordinator, Guy R. Cochrane.

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U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Laura Zink Torresan
Page Last Modified: 21 March 2014