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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center > Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Sea Floor > Massachusetts Sea Floor Mapping Cooperative

Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Sea Floor

shimMassachusetts Sea Floor Mapping Cooperative

Sea Floor photo samplesGeologic 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 – National Ocean Service (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 sea floor within the Massachusetts coastal zone, using high-resolution geophysical techniques, sediment sampling, and sea floor photography. Water depths in the study area range from about 2 m (6 ft) along the coast to 90 m (295 ft) in offshore areas.

The products and knowledge developed by this project have broad application to regional science and resource-management issues. 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 continental 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 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, an integrated, multi-use, proposal for the management of Massachusetts waters.

To Learn more about how the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is utilizing data from this cooperative visit their website at:


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