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High-resolution geophysical and geological data collected in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts in 2019 are now available in a new U.S. Geological Survey data release. 

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Bathymetry of Cape Cod Bay, MA collected in 2019. Warmer colors indicate shallow depths while cool colors indicate deeper depths. 

Accurate data and maps of seafloor geology are important first steps toward protecting fish habitat, delineating marine resources, and assessing environmental changes due to natural or human impacts. To address these concerns the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, mapped the Cape Cod Bay seafloor off the coast of Massachusetts. 

The data release (Ackerman et al., 2022) presents over 4,700-trackline-kilometers of geophysical data and seafloor sampling data collected in Cape Cod Bay in 2019. This is the first-ever comprehensive, high-resolution geophysical survey of Cape Cod Bay and is the first systematic bathymetric mapping of the entire Bay since the 1930's. Geophysical data collected include swath bathymetry, backscatter, and seismic reflection profile data. Ground-truth data, including sediment samples, underwater video, and bottom photographs were also collected. These data offer an unprecedented view of the Bay’s seafloor and subseafloor, which will help define the region’s geologic framework (e.g., sediment type, seafloor depth, etc.) and support resource management objectives. 



Cape Cod Bay Bathy/Backscatter
2270-trackline kilometers of geophysical data and 320 km^2 of continuous bathy/backscatter was collected in Leg 1 of the Cape Cod Bay 2019 seafloor mapping cruise.

researchers on a boat at night with equipment
Wayne Baldwin, Alex Nichols, and Brian Andrews get the 512i chirp subbottom profiler back on deck.  We only take the chirp out of the water when we need to perform maintenance, transit rapidly, or for weather. We always try to get the chirp back in the water ASAP so we can get back to data collection.
Sunset in Cape Cod Bay
Sunset photo taken during Cape Cod Bay sea-floor mapping cruise.
Image of USGS staff on the fantail of a research vessel preparing to deploy the subbottom profiler
 Before deploying the subbottom profiler for leg 2 of the seafloor mapping cruise, Wayne Baldwin, Alex Nichols, and Chuck Worley made sure the floats were sufficiently inflated. In the relatively shallow waters of Cape Cod Bay, they want the instrument towed at water's surface for the resolution of the sub seafloor geology.


This publication is part of a long-term collaboration between the USGS and the State of Massachusetts to map the State’s waters in order to better understand the type, distribution, and quality of subtidal marine habitats and support research on the current evolution of coastal Massachusetts and the influence of sea-level change and sediment supply on coastal evolution. This collaboration produces high-resolution geologic maps and Geographic Information System (GIS) data that serve the needs of research, management, and the public. Data collected as part of this mapping cooperative continue to be released in a series of USGS Open-File Reports and Data Releases

The publication team includes Seth Ackerman, David Foster, Brian Andrews, William (Bill) Danforth, Wayne Baldwin, Emily Huntley, Charles (Chuck) Worley, and Dr. Laura Brothers of the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. The data release, “High-resolution geophysical and geological data collected in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts during USGS Field Activities 2019-002-FA and 2019-034-FA,” was published on July 18, 2022. 

Setting sail from Woods Hole, MA to Cape Cod Bay aboard the R/V Warren Jr. USGS scientific staff defined the geologic framework of Cape Cod Bay to aid the state of Massachusetts in management and assessment of resources and hazards.

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