Where can I find bathymetric data?

The USGS has made bathymetric surveys for many coastal areas and for selected rivers and lakes in the U.S., including Yellowstone Lake, Crater Lake, and Lake Tahoe. Information and data for those studies is on the USGS Maps of America's Submerged Lands website.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is the primary source of bathymetric data for the world's oceans. See their Bathymetry and Global Relief website.

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Where can I get current sea-surface temperature data?

The USGS has studied sea-surface temperature in many areas around the globe; you can find publications from these studies i n the USGS Publications Warehouse and by searching on the Internet. World maps and data are available from other agencies, particularly at the NOAA's Sea Surface Temperature , and at the JPL Physical Oceanography Distributed...

What is marine geology?

Geology is the study of the Earth. This includes how the Earth was formed, how the Earth has changed since it was formed, the materials that make up the Earth, and the processes that act on it. Marine Geology focuses on areas affected by our oceans including the deep ocean floor, the shallower slopes and shelves that surround the continents, and...

Why is the ocean salty?

Oceans cover about 70 percent of the Earth's surface and about 97 percent of all water on and in the Earth is saline —there's a lot of salty water on our planet. By some estimates, if the salt in the ocean could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth’s land surface it would form a layer more than 500 feet (166 meters) thick, about the height...
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Date published: February 1, 2016

50-Year-Old Mystery Solved: Seafloor Mapping Reveals Cause of 1964 Tsunami that Destroyed Alaskan Village

Minutes after the 1964 magnitude-9.2 Great Alaska Earthquake began shaking, a series of tsunami waves swept through the village of Chenega in Prince William Sound, destroying all but two of the buildings and killing 23 of the 75 inhabitants. 

Date published: March 18, 2015

Dive In – Explore Thousands of Coastal and Seafloor Images

Thousands of photos and videos of the seafloor and coastline—most areas never seen before—are now available and easily accessible online. This is critical for coastal managers to make important decisions, ranging from protecting habitats to understanding hazards and managing land use.

Date published: August 9, 2013

California Seafloor Mapping Reveals Hidden Treasures

Science and technology have peeled back a veil of water just offshore of California, revealing the hidden seafloor in unprecedented detail. New imagery, specialized undersea maps, and a wealth of data from along the California coast are now available.

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Man in orange safety suit and helmet, and thumb up,  standing while riding a personal watercraft
January 12, 2017

Mapping bathymetry near the beach

USGS scientist Tim Elfers navigates a personal watercraft toward Cowell Beach to record bathymetric data along a transect.

A scientist in a personal water craft. View from the water toward the beach with an amusement park in the background.
January 12, 2017

Recording bathymetric data from a sonar-equipped personal watercraft.

USGS scientist Jackson Currie navigates a personal watercraft toward Santa Cruz Main Beach to record bathymetric data along a transect

Bathymetry of Monterey Canyon and the Soquel Canyon tributary
April 14, 2016

Bathymetry of Monterey Canyon and the Soquel Canyon tributary

Bathymetry of Monterey Canyon and the Soquel Canyon tributary — Monterey Canyon is one of the largest and deepest submarine canyons in the world, reaching depths of 1,520 m (5,000 ft) at the

Bathymetry bounding Tomales Point
April 13, 2016

Bathymetry bounding Tomales Point

Bathymetry bounding Tomales Point. Rugged and massive granite outcrops extend offshore from Tomales Point to water depths of as much as 60 meters. Offshore sedimentary rock outcrops (lower left part of image) form distinctive “ribs” on the seafloor and have a notably different appearance. There is minimal sediment on this part of the California shelf because the

Illustration of the bottom of the seafloor off Half Moon Bay, California, rotated.
December 31, 2014

Rotated version of the multibeam bathymetry map off Half Moon Bay, CA

Map view. Colored shaded-relief bathymetry map of Offshore of Half Moon Bay map area, generated from multibeam echosounder data. Colors show depth: reds and oranges indicate shallower areas; light blues, deeper areas. Illumination azimuth is 300°, from 45° above horizon.

Tim Elfers watches the incoming waves while conducting a bathymetric survey of the nearshore in Santa Cruz, California.
December 31, 2014

Conducting Bathymetric Surveys

USGS scientist Tim Elfers conducts a bathymetric (depth) survey from a personal watercraft with onboard GPS and echo sounder equipment, in Santa Cruz, California.

photo of USGS staffers on beach making bathymetric survey of Long Island barrier-island breach from Hurricane Sandy
June 9, 2014

Long Island Bathymetric surveying of barrier-island breach

USGS staffers on beach making bathymetric survey of Long Island barrier-island breach from Hurricane Sandy

June 28, 2012

PubTalk 6/2012 — Scanning the Seafloor with Sound

--modern sonar reveals hidden hazards and resources

by David Finlayson, Marine Geologist 


  • The USGS seafloor mapping program supports scientific studies across most marine disciplines, including geologic mapping, mineral exploration and environmental characterization.
  • See dramatic, colorful imagery of
June 30, 2011

PubTalk 6/2011 — Exploring California's Amazing Seafloor

--the visionary California Seafloor Mapping Program

by Sam Johnson, USGS Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center 


USGS scientists navigate personal water craft around San Francisco Bay, collecting bathymetric data.
October 26, 2007

Collecting Bathymetric Data in San Francisco Bay

USGS scientists Patrick Barnard (left) and Jeff Hansen navigate personal watercraft equipped with GPS and echo sounders through the waters of San Francisco Bay. They are collecting bathymetric, or depth, information in order to create maps of the bottom of the Bay. The maps will be used to determine how the morphology or shape of the Bay floor changes through time.