Redrawing the Map

Scientists and fishermen team up to find seafloor hazards and habitats

mapping coast imageMaps of Oregon’s territorial sea are due for an upgrade. Only 5 to 6 percent of the state’s near-shore seafloor has been cataloged and described in detail with modern instruments. Up-to-date nautical charts include data from lead-line sounding surveys going back as far as 1858.

Now, with help from the fishing industry, hydrographic contractors (David Evans and Associates and Fugro), the State of Oregon and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Chris Goldfinger is leading a $7.3 million mapping project that will pinpoint rocky reefs, depressions and navigational hazards. The Oregon State University associate professor of oceanic and atmospheric sciences says the new images will help fishermen, scientists and coastal managers who need to manage marine habitats and to develop better tsunami models.

Over the next two years, two vessels out of Newport — OSU’s Pacific Storm, captained by Bob Pedro, and the Michele Ann, captained by Bob Eder and Geogon Lapham — will help researchers collect detailed images over more than 34 percent of the seafloor out to the state’s three-mile limit. The project will expand existing coverage with a half-meter resolution, including 75 percent of rocky reefs, depressions and boulders.

Goldfinger led an earlier effort to map Oregon’s territorial sea, using existing data on seafloor habitats identified in thousands of bottom samples and soundings. The map and many other marine spatial layers are available online. New products from this project will be distributed through the same Web site.

For more about the mapping project, see this OSU news release:

New Funds Will Help Create Oregon’s Most  Accurate Seafloor Mapping System, August 12, 2009

To support ocean research at OSU, contact the Oregon State University Foundation.

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