Given that only a small percentage of the ocean has been well explored and that the ocean covers more than 70 percent of our planet’s surface, there’s a lot of undersea territory left for us to explore. Even if we narrow our search to a geographic location, sending divers or robotic vehicles down for a closer look can get expensive. Enter seafloor mapping.
Seafloor mapping is the first step in exploring our ocean. Once scientists or resource managers have identified an area they would like to know more about, ships equipped with technology such as multibeam sonar can collect data used to generate high-resolution bathymetric maps of that part of the seafloor.
Using these maps, we can make better decisions about how and where to conduct targeted, more-detailed exploration using tools such as remotely operated vehicles. By keeping us from “flying blind” as we explore, seafloor maps increase the scope, efficiency, and pace of deep-ocean exploration, saving both time and money while increasing our chances for significant discoveries.