Science Center Objects

The continental shelf and slope offshore California, Oregon, and Washington are home to deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and other sensitive habitats that could be impacted by the development of energy and mineral resources. The EXPRESS campaign will map and characterize these special areas to help guide ocean management decisions.

A woman standing at a table in a laboratory places small clear plastic vials into a plastic baggie.

USGS research oceanographer Nancy Prouty and a team of water chemistry specialists collected water column samples from several deep-sea locations off Washington, Oregon, and California. 

The potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on the human, coastal and marine environments must be evaluated in order to make environmentally sound decisions about managing energy and mining activities and developing mitigation measures. EXPRESS will explore, map, and measure regions of interest on the U.S. west coast outer continental shelf in order to improve computer models of benthic habitats.

EXPRESS priorities that contribute to ecosystem assessments include:

  • Locate and characterize deep sea coral, sponge, and chemosynthetic communities, including associated fish populations
  • Create a seamless map with benthic habitat classifications for targeted regions
  • Extend bathymetry and backscatter coverage to high priority areas
Image shows two women with an ROV processing samples

USGS scientist Nancy Prouty (left) recovers coral samples from ROV SuBastian while British Geological Survey scientist Diana Sahy looks on. (Courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute)