Seabed Mapping and Coastal Management Project

Last updated:8 April 2016


Geoscience Australia's Seabed Mapping and Coastal Management project coordinates the delivery of technical advice on the management of Australia's offshore living and non-living resources in support of the Offshore Energy Security Program. This involves:

  • providing advice on offshore resources including preparing seabed environmental summaries for future acreage release areas
  • conducting seabed mapping surveys in areas of planned offshore infrastructure development
  • maintaining fundamental national geoscience datasets for the seabed
  • developing and undertaking scientific research in the use of abiotic variables to predict potential marine biodiversity and habitat distribution
  • providing scientific support for the development of web-based information systems to deliver high-quality data and scientific products to government and the public (Ozcoasts website).

Key stakeholders are Australia's offshore resource industry, the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Commonwealth and State environmental agencies and the Australian public.

Achievements to Date

  • A raised awareness of the use of marine geoscience information and research in drafting marine policy by the Australian Government and in environmental regulation by Australia's offshore resource industry.
  • Use of geoscience data and advice in the Australian Government's decision-making processes for offshore resource development and marine environmental management.
  • Collection of important new data in targeted areas of Australia's marine region with subsequent preparation of associated post-survey reports. Data collected during surveys include:
    • multibeam bathymetry and backscatter
    • potential field (gravity and magnetics)
    • sub-surface profiles
    • geological and biological samples.

Tasks include:

  • conducting seabed mapping surveys
  • preparing seabed environmental summaries for future acreage release regions and to support infrastructure development by Australia's offshore oil and gas industry
  • deriving seascapes for the Australian margin
  • maintaining and populating Australia's Marine Samples (MARS) Database.

Gulf of Carpentaria Reefs

Geoscience Australia discovered a new coral reef province in the Gulf of Carpentaria during seabed mapping surveys carried out in 2003 and 2005 aboard the RV Southern Surveyor. The reefs are located along the southern part of the Gulf and are submerged 20-30 metres below sea level, making them invisible to satellites or air photography. Their existence was revealed using multibeam sonar mapping, underwater video and core sampling.