Supporting Marine Geoscience Research with Ongoing Growth of the Global Multi-Resolution Topography Synthesis and Maintenance of GeoMapApp

Lead PI: Dr. Suzanne M. Carbotte , Vicki Ferrini

Unit Affiliation: Marine and Polar Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

September 2019 - August 2022
Global ; Global ocean
Project Type: Facilities & Operations

DESCRIPTION: Knowledge of the depths and morphology of the seafloor is essential for many areas of marine science. The morphology of the seabed provides a record of the diverse geologic processes that affect the submarine environment including volcanic eruptions, faulting, submarine landslides and sediment transport from the continental margins. Detailed seabed bathymetry is also important for other areas of marine science research including evaluation of biological habitats, ocean circulation studies, and prediction of tsunami inundation, as well as for applied studies including fisheries and coastal resource management. Measurements of depth and morphology are now typically achieved through the use of modern swath multibeam echosounders (MBESs). However, the global ocean is vast, and only a small fraction (<15%) of the seafloor has been mapped with direct measurement, and the total area that can be mapped during a typical expedition is very limited. This makes preservation of and easy access to seabed mapping data of high value to the science community.

To help meet the need for easy access to seafloor topography information, the research team has developed the Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) synthesis which is a unified compilation of spatially sparse, quality controlled gridded MBES data merged with lower resolution global-scale ocean data, high-resolution terrestrial elevation data, and a collection of gridded bathymetry datasets at resolutions of meters to hundreds of meters. GMRT is the only such global synthesis, composed of a suite of multi-resolution grids and images, which at highest resolution preserve the full resolution of the underlying data, as well as attribution and access to source data. GMRT can be accessed through a variety of tools including GeoMapApp (GMA), which is a map-based visualization application that enables users to easily visualize seafloor morphology and make custom maps, as well as to visualize and analyze many other marine data types without the need for specialist expertise.

Funding for this project supports the continued development and growth of the GMRT synthesis and maintenance of the GMA data visualization and analysis tool. Broader impacts of this project include greater ease-of-access to marine geoscience data for specialists and non-specialists alike; enhanced research productivity, obviating the need for the time-consuming data processing tasks needed to obtain usable products for scientific inquiry; and facilitating broad re-use of marine geoscience data, which enhances the return on tax-payer investments in ocean science.