USGS said the “California Seafloor Mapping Program” has peeled back “a veil of water just offshore of California,” revealing the ocean’s floor in significantly new detail. “New imagery, specialized undersea maps, and a wealth of data from along the California coast are now available,” a USGS spokesperson said.

More than 500 hours of video and 87,000 photographs were collected and are now posted in the online portal of USGS (

The new information, which promises to have value for both the public and private sectors, is the result of a collaboration among state and federal agencies, academia and the private sector. “Each organization brings to the table a unique and complementary set of resources, skills and know-how,” said USGS Pacific Region Director Mark Sogge.

Some 16 different organizations participated, including five units the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); four California agencies; California State University; Monterey Bay, which maintains a seafloor mapping laboratory; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Pacific Gas and Electric Co.; and other private-sector organizations.

California Natural Resources/Ocean Protection Secretary John Laird praised the mapping effort for its “pioneering science that is changing the way we manage our oceans.” Laird said one of the USGS mapping project partners, the Ocean Protection Council, early on recognized that there was a “fundamental data gap” in oceanic management efforts regarding the lack of information on seafloor habitats and geology.

The seafloor mapping gives an important amount of additional information for the entire coastal management and research community, according to USGS lead researcher on the project, Sam Johnson, who said the collaboration of partners is “critical” to the overall success of the program.

NGI queried the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) for a reaction from the industry to the newest USGS data, but a WSPA representative was not immediately available to comment.