Deep Sea Exploration, Mapping and Characterization


Deep sea areas support unique ecosystems and are sources for energy and minerals. Exploring and mapping the oceans will help us fill gaps to better understand planetary-scale processes including tectonics and marine hazards; energy, mineral and biological resources; and other large-scale Earth systems. Improved knowledge of the deep sea will help us sustainably manage and use ocean resources.


Date published: October 7, 2021

USGS Leadership Participates in Virtual NOMEC Conversation Hosted by the UN Decade on the Ocean

What do you know about NOMEC? And why is NOMEC important?

NOMEC is the National Ocean Mapping, Exploring and Characterization program, a national effort focused on mapping the United States Excusive Economic Zone or EEZ.

Date published: October 6, 2021

Queen Charlotte Fault Mapping

The Queen Charlotte Fault is an active strike-slip boundary, similar to California’s San Andreas fault.

Date published: August 27, 2021

Exploring the Unknown in the Deep North Atlantic Ocean

Learning more about international waters, or the "high seas," and other unexplored deepwater areas through exploration is critical to ensuring they are collectively and sustainably managed for the good of the planet.


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Year Published: 2021

Extent of impact of deep-sea nodule mining midwater plumes is influenced by sediment loading, turbulence and thresholds

Deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining research activity has substantially increased in recent years, but the expected level of environmental impact is still being established. One environmental concern is the discharge of a sediment plume into the midwater column. We performed a dedicated field study using sediment from the Clarion Clipperton...

Munoz-Royo, Carlos; Peacock, Thomas; Alford, Matthew; Smith, Jerome; Le Boyer, Arnaud; Kulkarni, Chinmay; Lermusiaux, Pierre; Haley, Patrick; Mirabito, C; Wang, Dayang; Adams, Eric; Ouillon, Raphael; Breugem, Alexander; Decrop, Boudewijn; Lanckreit, Thijs; Supekar, Rohit; Rzeznik, Andrew; Gartman, Amy; Se-Jong Ju

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Year Published: 2021

Multiple melt source origin of the Line Islands (Pacific Ocean)

The Line Islands volcanic chain in the central Pacific Ocean exhibits many characteristics of a hotspot-generated seamount chain; however, the lack of a predictable age progression has stymied previous models for the origin of this feature. We combined plate-tectonic reconstructions with seamount age dates and available geochemistry to develop a...

Pockalny, Robert; Barth, Ginger; Eakins, Barry; Kelley, Katherine A.; Wertman, Christina

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Year Published: 2021

Bomb-produced radiocarbon across the South Pacific Gyre— A new record from American Samoa with utility for fisheries science

Coral skeletal structures can provide a robust record of nuclear bomb produced 14C with valuable insight into air-sea exchange processes and water movement with applications to fisheries science. To expand these records in the South Pacific, a coral core from Tutuila Island, American Samoa was dated with density band counting covering a 59-yr...

Andrews, Allen; Prouty, Nancy G.; Cheriton, Olivia