EXPRESS: Expanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems



EXPRESS will improve assessments of marine geohazards including earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.

Hazards study



EXPRESS will map and characterize sensitive deep-sea habitats to help guide ocean management decisions.

Ecosystems study



EXPRESS's resource assessment contributions will inform ocean energy and mineral resource decisions.

Resources study

Science Center Objects

EXPRESS is a multi-year, multi-institution cooperative research campaign in deep sea areas of California, Oregon, and Washington, including the continental shelf and slope. EXPRESS data and information are intended to guide wise use of living marine resources and habitats, inform ocean energy and mineral resource decisions, and improve offshore hazard assessments.

Map of a coastal area showing boundaries between states on land, with states, rivers, cities, and underwater features labeled.

Map of the U.S. west coast, including offshore areas to be studied during the EXPRESS campaign.

The power and value of EXPRESS (Expanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems) is in fusing multiple data sets across research cruises to support U.S. government missions of growing commerce, increasing resource independence, maintaining national security, and evaluating environmental impacts. Cooperative studies by government agencies, universities, and research institutions will collect multibeam bathymetry, backscatter sonar images, photos, videos, and samples; and synthesize new and existing data for many purposes. EXPRESS partners include NOAA, BOEM, USGS, MBARI, and USC Sea Grant.

The ultimate goal of EXPRESS is to develop comprehensive digital elevation models, habitat maps, and geologic maps, which are needed to address important issues associated with marine spatial planning, ecosystem assessments, geohazards, and the impact on sensitive ecosystems of offshore infrastructure development.


  • Extend bathymetry and backscatter coverage to high priority areas
  • Create a seamless map with benthic habitat classifications for targeted regions
  • Locate and characterize deep sea coral, sponge, and chemosynthetic communities, including associated fish populations
  • Identify underwater geological hazards and evaluate their potential for generating tsunamis
  • Investigate deep-sea minerals of potential industry interest
  • Use the complementary capabilities of federal assets to produce integrated datasets
  • Provide a foundation of publicly accessible data and information to spur further exploration, research, and management
  • Engage a broad cross-section of the scientific community and the public 


EXPRESS partners have completed several research cruises using ships from NOAA, university, and non-profit oceanographic research institutions. More cruises are planned and under discussion. Every participating organization has contributed resources including ships, instruments, and personnel.

View of ship from the side, floating in the water, painted white, satellite orbs on top, and 3 small boats hanging on side.

The NOAA ship Rainier completed several EXPRESS research cruises offshore of California and Oregon in 2017 and 2018. Credit: NOAA


Completed Research Cruises

Date Location Ship Organizations
October 2017 Morro Bay, California Rainier NOAA
October-November 2017 Channel Islands, California Rainier NOAA
April 2018 Morro Bay, California Rachel Carson MBARI
July-August 2018 Cordell Bank NMS and Farallones NMS, California Shimada NOAA
August 2018 Cascadia Margin, Oregon and California Rainier USGS
September 2018 Morro Bay, California Rainier BOEM
October 2018 California and Oregon Shimada USGS
June 2019 Cascadia Margin, Oregon and California Falkor USGS
September 2019 California Bold Horizon USGS
October 2019 California Bold Horizon USGS
October-November 2019 Washington, Oregon, and California; more info:
Research Cruise to Survey Deep-Sea Corals, Sponges,
and Fish Habitat Along the West Coast
” and
Surveying Deep-sea Corals, Sponges, and Fish Habitat Off the U.S. West Coast
Reuben Lasker NOAA


A woman stands near a table with some deep-water coral samples.

EXPRESS Expedition Team hosts NOAA, USGS, and BOEM leadership on October 21, 2019, in San Francisco

NOAA, BOEM, and USGS are the primary EXPRESS partners. Other partners include MBARI and USC Sea Grant.

Federal Partners

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • National Ocean Service (NOS) – Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Office of Coast Survey
  • NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) – Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program
  • Ocean and Atmospheric Research (OAR) – Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) – National Centers for Environmental Information
  • Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO)

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM):

  • Pacific Region
  • Environmental Studies Program

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

  • Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC)
  • Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (WARC)
A group of men and women stand and kneel in front of a wall filled with a collection of maps and photos, everyone is smiling.

EXPRESS workshop participants, November 29-30, 2018, in Santa Cruz, California

Non-Federal Partners

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)

Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE)

University of Southern California Sea Grant (USC Sea Grant)

Planning Workshop, November 29-30, 2018

Core EXPRESS participants held a planning workshop at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. Attendees discussed objectives, refined priorities for future work, and reviewed accomplishments to date.

Woman stands in front of a large projection screen pointing to part of the image displayed there.

USGS research geologist Jenna Hill proposed new geophysical surveys at the EXPRESS workshop, November 2018, Santa Cruz, California