USGS Seafloor-Mapping Expert Sam Johnson is Keynote Speaker at Geological Conference in South Africa

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The geological survey of South Africa invited research geologist Sam Johnson of the USGS PCMSC to participate in a workshop, and conference, held in March 2017 in Pretoria; and Johnson to share his insights as a leader of the California Seafloor Mapping Program. 

This article is part of the May 2017 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter.

A group of marine geology professionals stand before a world map on a wall with Africa in the center

Marine geology enthusiasts at the Council for Geoscience (CGS) conference. Left to right: Marthinus Cloete (Office of the Chief Operations Officer, CGS), Malusi Khumalo (CGS intern), Rahul Sharma (National Institute of Oceanography, India), Michael MacHutchon (CGS, Senior Scientist), Hayley Cawthra (CGS, Senior Scientist), Sam Johnson (USGS), Wilhelm Van Zyl (CGS, Scientist), and Lelsee Salzmann (CGS intern). 

The Council for Geoscience (CGS), the geological survey of South Africa, invited research geologist Sam Johnson of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) to participate in a 1-day workshop and 2-day conference held in March 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. CGS recently launched the South African Nearshore Mapping Program and invited Johnson to share his insights as a leader of the California Seafloor Mapping Program.

At the March 1 workshop on “Mapping the Continental Shelf and Unlocking Deep Seabed Potential,” Johnson spoke about offshore geologic mapping and its application to geologic hazards. On March 2, he opened the conference with a keynote address: “The California Seafloor Mapping Program—History, Challenges, Applications, and Lessons Learned.”

The workshop and meeting coincided with the publication of Johnson’s latest paper, “The California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program—Providing science and geospatial data for California’s State Waters,” in Ocean and Coastal Management.

“This paper [co-authored with USGS colleagues Guy Cochrane, Nadine Golden, Peter Dartnell, Stephen Hartwell, Susan Cochran, and Janet Watt] summarizes a massive amount of work by PCMSC staff,” said Johnson, adding that “it is getting good instant buzz. It was super helpful to have this available to distribute at the meetings.”

Labeled seafloor map shows bathymetry lines & active faults offshore from the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the California coast

Seafloor geology map from the new Coastal and Ocean Management paper by Johnson and others shows active faults offshore from the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DC) on the central California coast. California Seafloor Mapping Program data facilitated new fault characterization and improved earthquake-hazard assessments. PB, Point Buchon; PS, Point San Luis; HF, Hosgri fault; PBF, Point Buchon fault; SF, Shoreline fault. Image credit: Johnson and others, USGS.

Shaded-relief map shows current & potential submarine landslide sites

Shaded-relief map from the new Coastal and Ocean Management paper by Johnson and others shows submarine landslides and sites of potential future landslides along the steep upper continental slope in the western Santa Barbara Channel area. EC, El Capitan; G, Gaviota; Go, Goleta; PH, Platform Holly. Contours are in meters. Image credit: Johnson and others, USGS.

Johnson’s invitation to the CGS gatherings stemmed from his attendance several months earlier at the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in Cape Town, South Africa. At that conference, held August 27–September 4, 2016, Johnson interacted with many seafloor-mapping geologists from around the world. One result of the IGC meeting was the proposal of a session on seafloor mapping, with emphasis on applications and collaboration, for the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held in New Orleans next December. That session, “Seafloor Mapping—Progress, Discoveries, Applications, and Collaborations,” will be co-convened by scientists from Australia, Ireland, Canada, and the U.S.

Another result was the CGS invitation to Johnson to share his seafloor-mapping insights at their March workshop and conference. His trip to South Africa produced many stimulating conversations on marine geology and mapping with scientists from CGS as well as other South African agencies and academic institutions.

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Date published: August 31, 2020
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California Seafloor Mapping Program

The California Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP) is a cooperative program to create a comprehensive coastal/marine geologic and habitat base map series for all of California's State waters. The California Ocean Protection Council (COPC) authorized funds to establish the CSMP in 2007 and assembled a team of experts from state and federal agencies, academia, and private industry to develop the...