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Cover Story

USGS Seafloor-Mapping Expert Sam Johnson is Keynote Speaker at Geological Conference in South Africa



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The Council for Geoscience (CGS), the geological survey of South Africa, invited research geologist Sam Johnson of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) to participate in a 1-day workshop and 2-day conference held in March 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. CGS recently launched the South African Nearshore Mapping Program and invited Johnson to share his insights as a leader of the California Seafloor Mapping Program.

Marine geology enthusiasts at the Council for Geoscience (CGS) conference.
Above: Marine geology enthusiasts at the Council for Geoscience (CGS) conference. Left to right: Marthinus Cloete (Office of the Chief Operations Officer, CGS), Malusi Khumalo (CGS intern), Rahul Sharma (National Institute of Oceanography, India), Michael MacHutchon (CGS, Senior Scientist), Hayley Cawthra (CGS, Senior Scientist), Sam Johnson (USGS), Wilhelm Van Zyl (CGS, Scientist), and Lelsee Salzmann (CGS intern). [larger version]

At the March 1 workshop on “Mapping the Continental Shelf and Unlocking Deep Seabed Potential,” Johnson spoke about offshore geologic mapping and its application to geologic hazards. On March 2, he opened the conference with a keynote address: “The California Seafloor Mapping Program—History, Challenges, Applications, and Lessons Learned.”

The workshop and meeting coincided with the publication of Johnson’s latest paper, “The California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program—Providing science and geospatial data for California’s State Waters,” in Ocean and Coastal Management.

“This paper [co-authored with USGS colleagues Guy Cochrane, Nadine Golden, Peter Dartnell, Stephen Hartwell, Susan Cochran, and Janet Watt] summarizes a massive amount of work by PCMSC staff,” said Johnson, adding that “it is getting good instant buzz. It was super helpful to have this available to distribute at the meetings.”

California’s famous Highway 1 runs through Davenport. Pacific Elementary School in Davenport, California. Photo credit: Rex Sanders, USGS.
Above: Seafloor geology map from the new Coastal and Ocean Management paper by Johnson and others shows active faults offshore from the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DC) on the central California coast. California Seafloor Mapping Program data facilitated new fault characterization and improved earthquake-hazard assessments. PB, Point Buchon; PS, Point San Luis; HF, Hosgri fault; PBF, Point Buchon fault; SF, Shoreline fault. [larger version]

  Above: Shaded-relief map from the new Coastal and Ocean Management paper by Johnson and others shows submarine landslides and sites of potential future landslides along the steep upper continental slope in the western Santa Barbara Channel area. EC, El Capitan; G, Gaviota; Go, Goleta; PH, Platform Holly. Contours are in meters. [larger version]

Johnson’s invitation to the CGS gatherings stemmed from his attendance several months earlier at the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in Cape Town, South Africa. At that conference, held August 27–September 4, 2016, Johnson interacted with many seafloor-mapping geologists from around the world. One result of the IGC meeting was the proposal of a session on seafloor mapping, with emphasis on applications and collaboration, for the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held in New Orleans next December. That session, “Seafloor Mapping—Progress, Discoveries, Applications, and Collaborations,” will be co-convened by scientists from Australia, Ireland, Canada, and the U.S.

Another result was the CGS invitation to Johnson to share his seafloor-mapping insights at their March workshop and conference. His trip to South Africa produced many stimulating conversations on marine geology and mapping with scientists from CGS as well as other South African agencies and academic institutions.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Publications New Maps Reveal Seafloor off San Francisco Area
March - June 2015
Workshops on the California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program
November - December 2014

Related Websites
The California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program—Providing science and geospatial data for California’s State Waters
Ocean and Coastal Management
California Seafloor Mapping Program
USGS

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Cover Story
Scientists Prepare for Hurricane Season with New Tools and Data

News Briefs
News Briefs

Research
Disappearing Beaches: Shoreline Change in Southern California

Field Work
Recent Fieldwork

Outreach
Deep-Water ROV Dives at Methane Seeps

Scientists Inspiring Students

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Sam Johnson is Keynote Speaker at Geological Conference in South Africa

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