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Ocean

The ocean holds great cultural and economic value and hosts numerous ecosystems that support life on Earth and produce valuable resources. USGS science focuses on improved understanding of many aspects of our world’s interconnected oceanic system, from the continental shelf to the deep sea. 

The USGS is a world leader in characterizing the geologic structure; energy, biological, and mineral resources; and planetary-scale processes that occur at and beneath the ocean floor. The USGS brings state-of-the-art ocean research and scientific information to policymakers, resource managers, and the public in order to sustainably manage our limited marine resources. 

The USGS conducts research on the continental shelf to better understand how sedimentary deposits and coral reefs grow and protect our coastlines. On the continental slope, scientists look at unique submarine canyon ecosystems and evaluate how sediments move through them, such as submarine landslides, which can trigger tsunamis to form. USGS scientists are also working with partners to explore the deep sea (much of which is still unmapped), searching for new life, minerals, and knowledge about these environments and their connectedness from microscopic to ecosystem levels.  

Explore the topics below to learn how USGS science contributes to knowledge on ocean processes, resources, hazards, and more.  

The seven named oceans and many seas, bays, and estuaries, are all interdependent and connected as one global ocean. The importance of the ocean to our everyday lives is indisputable. It covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, provides over half of the oxygen we breathe, influences our climate, and provides abundant resources upon which the world depends. 
OCEAN 101

OCEAN 101

MAPPING THE SEAFLOOR

MAPPING THE SEAFLOOR

OCEAN DISCOVERY

OCEAN DISCOVERY

GREAT LAKES AND INLAND SEAS

GREAT LAKES AND INLAND SEAS

MARINE BIOLOGY AND ECOSYSTEMS

MARINE BIOLOGY AND ECOSYSTEMS

MARINE GEOHAZARDS

MARINE GEOHAZARDS

MARINE GEOLOGY

MARINE GEOLOGY

MARINE MINERALS AND OFFSHORE ENERGY

MARINE MINERALS AND OFFSHORE ENERGY

OCEAN AND CLIMATE

OCEAN AND CLIMATE