Seabed mapping in Northern Australia
15 November 2010
Geoscience Australia recently participated in a month-long seabed mapping survey in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and Timor Sea off the coast of the Northern Territory. The survey aboard the Australian Institute of Marine Science's research vessel RV Solander was the third survey undertaken as part of a partnership agreement with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, with the aim of improving our understanding of Australia's marine environment in northern Australia.
This latest seabed mapping survey follows an initial survey to the region in 2009. It addressed specific research questions posed by Australia's offshore oil and gas industry regarding the distribution of unique and sensitive seabed habitats, and potential natural geo-hazards such as the location of natural petroleum seeps.
Initial findings reveal the shallow carbonate banks are covered by rich sponge and coral gardens, and the deeper channels contain muddy sands that support a diverse mix of species living within the seabed sediment; some of which are new to science. Final reporting of the scientific outcomes of the survey will be completed by June 2011.
Representatives from the Australian Hydrographic Service, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Geological Survey of Canada also participated in the survey making it a truly collaborative effort.
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