Mapping the ocean floor

We're using the latest technology to collect information about the sea floor, so industry and environmental managers can make better decisions about managing undersea resources and ecosystems.

The Challenge

Unmapped resources

Australia has one of the world’s largest marine territories but only 25 per cent of our ocean floor has been mapped. We need information about our undersea resources so we can make the best possible management decisions.

Our Response

Collecting and managing seafloor data

Using the latest sonar technology, both in mobile units and on board RV Investigator, we can map any part of the ocean floor to any depth, measure bodies in the water column and look at the composition of sub-seafloor sediments. The data we collect is processed and managed by our Geophysical Survey and Mapping team, who make it available for researchers, resource managers and others who need information about the ocean floor.

The shipwreck of the Lake Illawarra lies underneath the Tasman Bridge in the Derwent River, in Hobart.

We operate the following systems:

  • EM122 1° x 1° full ocean depth multibeam echosounder (12 kHz): a full ocean depth multibeam echo sounder with a 30 km maximum swath width to survey the continental slope and abyssal plain
  • EM710 0.5° x 1° shallow-water multibeam echosounder (70–100 kHz): a high-resolution shallow water multibeam echo sounder that can survey to 2000 m deep and up to 10 km wide, for use on the continental shelf and upper slope
  • SBP120 3° x 3° sub-bottom profiler: a sub-bottom profiler to investigate geological composition below the sea floor in depths to 100 m
  • EK60 single-beam water column acoustic: multi-frequency scientific split-beam echo sounders to target multiple fish species for biomass estimation
  • ME70 multibeam water column acoustic: a multibeam echo sounder for three-dimensional biomass (fish) estimates that spreads a 120 degree, fan-shaped signal to 500 m depth and up to 3000 m wide
  • Micro g Lacoste Air-Sea II marine gravity meter
  • EM2040c shallow-water multibeam echosounder, which is used on vessels of opportunity around Australia to support coastal survey work and habitat mapping in water depths to 200 m.

The Geophysical Survey and Mapping team also works on developing new techniques to process and interpret sonar data.

 Bathymetry data can be requested from the Geophysical Survey and Mapping group.

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