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Geologic characterization of shelf areas using usSEABED for GIS mapping, modeling processes and assessing marine sand and gravel resources

January 1, 2007

Geologic maps depicting offshore sedimentary features serve many scientific and applied purposes. Such maps have been lacking, but recent computer technology and software offer promise in the capture and display of diverse marine data. Continental margins contain landforms which provide a variety of important functions and contain important sedimentary records. Some shelf areas also contain deposits regarded as potential aggregate resources. Because proper management of coastal and offshore areas is increasingly important, knowledge of the framework geology and marine processes is critical. Especially valuable are comprehensive and integrated digital databases based on high-quality information from original sources. Products of interest are GIS maps containing thematic information, such as sediment character and texture. These products are useful to scientists modeling nearshore and shelf processes as well as planners and managers. The U.S. Geological Survey is leading a national program to gather a variety of extant marine geologic data into the usSEABED database system. This provides centralized, integrated marine geologic data collected over the past 50 years. To date, over 340,000 sediment data points from the U.S. reside in usSEABED, which combines an array of physical data and analytical and descriptive information about the sea floor and are available to the marine community through three USGS data reports for the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific published in 2006, and the project web sites: (http://woodshole.er.usg s.gov/project-pages/aggregates/ and http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/usseabed/)