PCMSC Marine Facility (MarFac)

Field Equipment and Capabilities

Field Equipment and Capabilities

Learn about our capabilities and the various field equipment we use on land and beaches, off of boats in the nearshore environment and shallow waters, and off of large ships in deeper waters.

Our Equipment



Learn about the different types of vessels we use in and around rivers, bays, coastal areas, and the deep ocean.

Our Vessels

The Team

The Team

Meet our team of field specialists at MarFac.

Our Team

Science Center Objects

Learn about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Marine Facility, or MarFac

A group of people enter a building at the loading dock, walking up a loading ramp.

Loading dock entrance to the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's Marine Facility in Santa Cruz, California.

MarFac is the operational arm of PCMSC. MarFac staff provide engineering, mechanical, and electronics expertise for field operations along the coast, in the nearshore environment, and in the deeper waters of the ocean.

A man, wearing safety gear and holding a pen, sits at a work station on a boat with a folder open in front of him.

Ocean engineer Gerry Hatcher, of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC), sits at a desk on board the USGS boat Sallenger. He and a team of scientists from PCMSC and sister team St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center are near Eastern Dry Rocks reef off the coast of Key West National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Gerry is keeping notes while the special camera system that he invented and developed is towed in the water.

The system is called “SQUID-5” (Structure-from-Motion Quantitative Underwater Imaging Device with 5 cameras). SQUID-5 is towed over an area of interest, in this case a coral reef ecosystem, to collect high-resolution georeferenced imagery that is used to make 3D maps of the seafloor.

These high-res maps allow the USGS to detect millimeter-scale changes in seafloor elevation and coral reef structure. This information can be used to help track the progress of restoration efforts being done by partners such as the NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary over the next two decades.

A woman and a man stand on the edge of a ship and swing a boom out over the water, with instruments attached

Jenny McKee and Peter Dal Farro of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center’s Marine Facility swing a pair of seismic sources, also called air guns, and the gun hanger, out over the water to deploy them during the 2018 MATRIX cruise. Scripps Institution of Oceanography's seismic streamer is coiled on the blue winch in the foreground.

Photo of a floating coring rig with metal A-frame support structure and platforms to accommodate operators at two levels.

The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center’s coring rig, built by Uwitec of Mondsee, Austria. The coring unit is a motor-powered piston corer with steel weights.

A man wearing safety gear and a warm hat sits in a pontoon boat in very calm water setting up equipment, bridge in background.

Marine engineering technician Pete Dal Ferro sets up a newly acquired, portable, single-beam echo sounder on the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, California. The new device, called CEESCOPE, collects bathymetric (depth) data and also records features of the subsurface. All the components are easy for one person to set up and operate, with GPS and an LCD touch screen. This day survey is part of ongoing, seasonal surveys in the nearshore regions of Monterey Bay to help characterize the sediment budget of the area. Credit: Andrew Stevens, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

View looking down from a bridge and onto a boat's stern and cabin top as it passes under the bridge.

View looks down from a bridge as USGS research vessel R/V Parke Snavely passes beneath. Credit: Jenny McKee, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Two people hold onto a large metal tripod with instruments suspended from a cable as they guide it into the water.

USGS physical scientist Cordell Johnson, at left, and USGS research oceanographer Jessie Lacy, both from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, guide a tripod with instruments into the waters of the Mokelumne River near the confluence with the San Joaquin River. The Mokelumne is part of the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California, located east of San Francisco Bay and south of Sacramento. Credit: John Koster, USGS