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Northern Gulf of Mexico Bathymetry and Feature Names

By

HOLCOMBE, TROY L., and BRYANT, WILLIAM R.

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX,

BOUMA, ARNOLD H.

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA,

TAYLOR, LISA A.

NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, CO,

LIU, JIA Y.

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Houston, TX

 

New bathymetry of the northern Gulf of Mexico, completed or in progress, includes basinwide bathymetry of the entire Gulf of Mexico; detailed bathymetry of the Outer Continental Slope; and relief models of the northern Gulf of Mexico continental margin. This new bathymetry has resulted from long-term efforts by the NOAA Coast Survey, the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, and by investigators at Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University. The bathymetry provides enhanced depiction of known features, and inevitably results in discovery of previously unknown features. On the continental shelves (0-100m), ridges, reefs, channels, and domes of no more than a few meters relief are being seen for the first time. On the Outer Continental Slope larger relief features emerge, including rounded basins and domes, ridges, canyons, escarpments, hills, mounds, other sediment depositional features, deltas, and fans. Imagery and bathymetric contours, which can only be described as spectacular, give some sense as to what is being achieved, and especially, what is to come.

As these features become known, and the bathymetry is utilized (fishing, ocean engineering, habitat assessments, scientific investigations, environmental protection, hazards prediction), the need arises for new geographic names, as well as promulgation and standardization of these and existing names. A provisional gazetteer of names has been developed, and is currently posted on the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center website.