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Release of Offshore Sediment Data for the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean: Basic Tools for Offshore GIS Mapping and Geologic Research


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Southern continental margin, showing sediment grain size from Louisiana to Florida, using the extracted and parsed data sets in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean data series
Above: Southern continental margin, showing sediment grain size from Louisiana to Florida, using the extracted (dots) and parsed (triangles) data sets in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean data series (DS 146). Grain sizes shown on this map range from cobbles (dark orange) to clays (green). [larger version]

In July 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released "usSEABED: Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) Offshore Surficial Sediment Data Release," USGS Data Series 146. This publication is part of usSEABED, a collection of linked data sets in which sea-floor-sediment data from the USGS and other research groups are collated, processed, and extended to maximize their usability for mapping and analysis.

Detailed and high-quality data and maps of the characteristics of sediment on continental margins and in estuaries and littoral regions are useful to many diverse groups and organizations and are vitally important to expanding our knowledge of sea-floor geology and processes.

usSEABED is a centralized, fully integrated digital database of existing marine geologic samplings from across the Nation. It is the result of the USGS-led collaboration with other Federal agencies, coastal States, and universities. This innovative database, which combines a broad array of physical data and information about the sea floor, including textural, statistical, geochemical, geophysical, and compositional information, is being used to produce a suite of maps of sea-floor characteristics suitable for use in any geographic information system (GIS). The database design and software (called dbSEABED) originated with Chris Jenkins of the University of Sydney, Australia, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. The use of usSEABED and derivative maps is part of ongoing USGS efforts to conduct regional assessments of potential marine sand and gravel resources, to map sea-floor habitats, and to support USGS and others' research interests in sediment transport and other issues. Although the database was created primarily for coastal and marine researchers, GIS products from usSEABED are also being used by planners and managers for numerous purposes.

USGS Data Series 146, the new release of usSEABED data for the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, provides approximately 190,000 data points from the sea-floor surface and subbottom in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (extending 200 nautical miles from shore) from the Florida Keys to the United States-Mexican border, as well as around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Companion publications are the initial usSEABED data release for the Atlantic margin, published in 2005 as USGS Data Series 118, and the Pacific margin data release, USGS Data Series 182, published in June 2006 (see Sound Waves article, Seabed Characteristics Along the Pacific Margin: usSEABED in California, Oregon, and Washington Waters Published as USGS Data Series 182). Data currently being compiled for sea-floor areas off Alaska and Hawaii will be published in the near future. Each usSEABED publication will be updated as additional data become available, with notices about these updates and other information posted on the usSEABED Web site.

We encourage data contributions to usSEABED from all coastal margins and major lakes of the United States and appreciate comments on these data-release publications.

The data supplied in these reports are made available with geographic coordinates so that the data can be incorporated into any GIS product. Layers include numeric data from field or laboratory measurements (extracted, or EXT), numeric data from word-based descriptions (parsed, or PRS), data mined from the EXT and PRS data files using known or empirical relations (calculated, or CLC), composition and feature data of the sea floor as individual components (CMP), and combined facies (FAC) output files, along with basemap layers compiled in an ArcView project file. The database currently includes sea-floor and sediment data from more than 340,000 stations throughout the contiguous United States. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) compliant metadata are included for all source data sets and usSEABED data files.

Within regions of dense, high-quality data coverage on the continental margin, such as the New York Bight (off New York and New Jersey), Louisiana, Florida, and many parts of the U.S. Pacific margin, usSEABED is being used to generate GIS maps of sea-floor sediment types, such as gravel, sand, and mud. The database can also be used to investigate various other seabed parameters, such as areas of hard ground, texture classification, color, carbonate content, organic-carbon content, sea-floor roughness, and sediment shear stress.

To contribute data to this nationwide database; to request more information about usSEABED along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, the Great Lakes, and the U.S. Caribbean region; and (or) to request CD-ROM copies of the Atlantic (DS 118) and Gulf/Caribbean (DS 146) publications, please contact S. Jeffress Williams in Woods Hole, Mass. (jwilliams@usgs.gov). For more information about usSEABED, to contribute data in the Pacific region (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii), and (or) to request a copy of the Pacific margin (DS 182) CD-ROM, please contact Jane Reid in Santa Cruz, Calif. (jareid@usgs.gov).

The full citation of the latest usSEABED publication is:

Buczkowski, B.J., Reid, J.A., Jenkins, C.J., Reid, J.M., Williams, S.J., and Flocks, J.G., 2006, usSEABED; Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) offshore surficial sediment data release: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 146, version 1.0 [URL http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/2006/146/].


Related Sound Waves Stories
Seabed Characteristics Along the Pacific Margin: usSEABED in California, Oregon, and Washington Waters Published as USGS Data Series 182
August 2006

Related Web Sites
usSEABED Project
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
usSEABED: Atlantic Coast Offshore Surficial Sediment Data Release - DS 118
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
usSEABED: Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) Offshore Surficial Sediment Data Release - DS 146
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
usSEABED: Pacific Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) Offshore Surficial-Sediment Data Release - DS 182
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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Fieldwork
cover story:
Oil Spill Response Exercise

Mapping the Sea Floor Off Santa Barbara, CA

Research Underwater Sand Waves Seaward of Golden Gate Bridge

Manatee Traveler in Northeastern Waters Not Chessie

Cat Parasite May Affect Cultural Traits in Human Populations

Outreach MIT Students Visit USGS Woods Hole

USGS Participates in Waquoit Bay Watershed Block Party

Awards USGS Intern Receives Fulbright Scholarship

Staff USGS Employees Make Semifinals in Local Outrigger-Canoe Races

Publications usSEABED: Sediment Data for the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

New Coastal and Marine Digital Library

September 2006 Publications List


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