By Bradford Butman
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is mapping the sea floor offshore of major metropolitan centers. The New York-New Jersey metropolitan area is one of the most populated coastal regions in the United States. The New York harbor estuary and its offshore area are used for waste disposal, transportation, recreation, and commercial and recreational fishing.
Interpretive maps of the sea-floor geology provide a fundamental framework for research and management in the coastal ocean. They show the composition of the seabed and the shape (topography) of the sea floor; they also show areas of present and past dumping of sediments and pollutants, as well as locations and impacts of other human activities. They provide information on the transport of sediment and help to define biological habitats. All this information can be used to develop predictive models to guide habitat and resource management, monitoring strategies, and other research studies.