Geologic mapping of the Massachusetts inner continental shelf is a cooperative effort that was initiated in 2003 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA-NOS) is also an important partner and contributes hydrographic data that are integrated into the maps. The overall goal of this cooperative is to determine the geologic framework of the seafloor inside the 3-mile limit of State waters, using high-resolution geophysical techniques, sediment sampling, and seafloor photography. Water depths in the study area range from about 5 m (16 ft) along the coast to 90 m (295 ft) in offshore areas. From 2003-2008, this project has mapped approximately 1375 km² (530 mi²) of seafloor extending from the MA/NH border to northern Cape Cod Bay. Additional mapping is planned for areas south of Cape Cod beginning in 2009.
The products and knowledge developed by this project have broad applicability to scientific and resource-management issues in the region. The geologic and bathymetric maps help us understand the processes that have shaped the coast and how it has evolved over time, and thereby help evaluate the vulnerability of coastal environments to storms, sea-level rise, and long-term climate change. Accurate maps that depict the distribution of bottom types on the inner shelf provide scientific guidance for appropriately siting offshore development such as sand mining, pipelines, and renewable energy projects. The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) uses the maps to monitor habitat recovery following pipeline construction in Massachusetts Bay and to conduct fisheries research. Ultimately, these maps will support the recently approved Oceans Act of 2008, an integrated, multi-use, ocean-management plan for Massachusetts waters.
Fact Sheet 2006-3042 - Mapping the Seafloor Geology Offshore of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Ocean Management Initiative
Massachusetts Seafloor Mapping Cooperative mapped areas. Click on figure for larger image.
For more information about Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management:
For more information about Gulf of Maine Mapping (GOMMI) Initiative:
For more information about CZM's seafloor mapping initiative:
CZM Seafloor Mapping Program
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
251 Causeway St. Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114