2012 ECS Atlantic Mission

July 2 – July 17

Gulf of Alaska, showing planned tracklines, Extended Continental Shelf Project 2011 Gulf of Alaska cruise. Abbreviations: MCS, multichannel seismic; OBS, ocean-bottom seismometer; NM, nautical mile; EEZ, Exclusive Economic Zone.

Southeast Atlantic, showing planned tracklines, Extended Continental Shelf Project 2012 Atlantic Survey. Click image for larger version. Credit: USGS

The NOAA ship, Ron Brown, collected bathymetric data in the southeast Atlantic this summer in support of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project.  The ship successfully mapped nearly 65,000 square kilometers, an area equivalent to the size of West Virginia.  Specifically, scientists used a multibeam echosounder to collect bathymetric data that provide high-resolution information about the depth and shape of the seafloor.  These data are necessary for the U.S. to delineate the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, often called the Extended Continental shelf or ECS.  The ECS off the Atlantic is a substantial area that may extend as far as 350 nautical miles from the Atlantic coast.  The Chief Scientist for this cruise was Captain Andy Armstrong from the Joint Hydrographic Center, a joint program between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire.