Extended Continental Shelf Project

The mission of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project is to establish the full extent of the continental shelf of the United States, consistent with international law.

The process to determine the outer limits of the U.S. ECS requires the collection and analysis of data that describe the depth, shape, and geophysical characteristics of the seabed and sub-sea floor. Since 2003, U.S. agencies have been engaged in gathering and analyzing data to determine the outer limits of the U.S. ECS. The ECS Project conducted two cruises in 2012.

The continental shelf is an important maritime zone, one that holds many resources and vital habitats for marine life. Knowledge of the extent of the ECS and an improved understanding of its resources is necessary for national security and good management. The data collection aspect of the ECS effort is the largest and potentially most significant interagency marine survey ever undertaken by the U.S.

PDF poster of ECS project Download a PDF poster summarizing the Extended Continental Shelf Project (14.5 MB).