High-Resolution Multichannel Seismic System

Science Center Objects

Description of the high-resolution multichannel seismic system at the Marine Facility (MarFac) of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, for seafloor mapping

Photo of equipment sitting on the deck of a boat which is docked, and it's sleeting or snowing.

R/V Barnes with the USGS multichannel seismic system and Chirp sub-bottom profiler.


PCMSC owns and operates a portable high resolution multichannel seismic system capable of collecting sub-bottom seafloor data from a variety of vessels. The system consists of several sound sources and hydrophone receivers that can be configured for different sediment types to target subsurface structures and materials. In its smaller configuration, it can be hand deployed from small boats allowing access to shallow coastal waters. When offshore data or deeper subsurface penetration is required, the system is installed on larger ships that can supply the power, high-pressure air, and deck space needed to operate. This capability has allowed us to identify features such as submarine landslides, gas hydrates, and faults in waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska.

Sound Sources


  • (1) GI Gun (210 cu. In.)
  • (2) Mini GI Gun (60 cu in.)
  • 4-Gun Rack-mount Hotshot Controller
  • 2-Gun Portable Hotshot Controller
  • Electric Compressor – MaxAir 90 PBAC with vertical storage
  • Peripherals (umbilicals, blast phones, 2-gun hanger, air handling manifold)
Photo of a frame with two long, tubular floats attached to trays in between them, supporting instruments with cables.

GeoPulse boomer plates mounted on float

Sparkers and Boomers


Complimentary Equipment:

High resolution data is often collected in conjunction with a Chirp sub-bottom profiler.


A large wheel, bigger than a person, holds a long green hose wrapped around its drum.

GeoEel on a winch