New Wave Media

October 6, 2020

New NOAA Manual to Inform Deepwater Exploration Mapping

Scientists view canyon data in the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer control room. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. (Image: NOAA)

Scientists view canyon data in the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer control room. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. (Image: NOAA)

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration (OER) has released the NOAA OER Deepwater Exploration Mapping Procedures Manual to describe the office’s approach to deepwater ocean exploration acoustic mapping. 

OER is sharing this manual as a contribution to broader cross-agency efforts to develop standard ocean mapping protocols and to serve as a guide for other interested public and private entities conducting deepwater mapping and exploration.


Download the manual here.


With less than 20% of our world ocean’s seafloor mapped to modern standards, seafloor mapping is a national and international priority. As emphasized by the U.S. National Strategy for Mapping, Exploring, and Characterizing the United States Exclusive Economic Zone and Seabed 2030, the monumental task of mapping the seafloor requires a collective, coordinated, and collaborative approach.

For more than 10 years, OER has been conducting exploratory mapping operations throughout U.S. waters and in other parts of the world’s ocean aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. Based on this experience, OER produced this first-of-its-kind manual for ship-based exploratory ocean mapping operations deeper than 200 meters (656 feet).

The manual details the principles of exploration mapping that underlie OER’s mapping operations and describes methodologies for data acquisition, processing, reporting, and archiving. It will be reviewed annually and updated as needed based on changes in technology or methodologies.

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