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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. 

Sound Waves May 2017 Issue

Sound Waves May 2017 Issue

Sound Waves Newsletter

Sound Waves Newsletter

Labeled seafloor map shows the shaded depth and active faults offshore of a part of the California coast.
Seafloor geology map from a 2017 journal article by Johnson and others, published in Coastal and Ocean Management. Shaded digital elevation model (DEM) showing 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.

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.

Map showing offshore geology
Map of central California coast offshore of offshore of Point Buchon (PB), the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DC), and Point San Luis (PS). Map shows offshore geology from Watt and others (2015), highlighting active faults (HF, Hosgri fault; PBF, Point Buchon fault; SF, Shoreline fault).

“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.”

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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