Submerged Marine Habitat Mapping: A Foundation for Enhancing Resilience to Climate Change and other Stressors

  • Side-scan sonar image of a possible man-made object on the seafloor. The acoustic echo from the surface is visible in the light vertical line on the left side of the image.
  • This image shows a three-dimensional hydrographic map generated by a swath bathymetry multibeam sonar off the Assateague coast.
  • Marine Habitat Mapping Crew
    The Marine Habitat Mapping crew aboard the R/V Joanne Daiber for the first deployment of the Gavia AUV from that vessel

Human reliance upon, and interference with, benthic ecosystems necessitates an understanding of the spatial extent, structure, and function of these unique ecosystems. This proposed work uses novel geoacoustic techniques for remote benthic habitat mapping and employs both traditional technologies for wide area coverage (towed side-scan sonar) combined with point sampling and new technologies (AUVs and ROVs) for gathering data in an unprecedented level of resolution over targeted regions of interest. Furthermore, with this project we are creating a readily accessible, digital benthic data website repository for our planned mapping data that will be made available to environmental stakeholders via the freely available Google EarthTM visualization system.

Knowledge gained from this study will allow coastal and estuary environmental stakeholders responsible for the Assateague Island National Seashore to better manage resources to protect these environments by providing information on the location of habitats, species’ distributions and associations to varying sedimentary and morphological regimes. In addition, the application of AUVs and ROVs for mapping and characterizing benthic communities will expedite the production of accurate, comprehensive, resource maps and seafloor bathymetry. The new online data portal will serve as a clearinghouse for array mapping efforts packaging all the available information into one easily accessible format.

The overall goal is to resurvey the nearshore zone of Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) to determine what changes in bottom sediments, benthic fauna and fish habitat occurred and can be attributed to Superstorm Sandy.


>> Robotic Discovery Laboratories

Featured Faculty

Arthur Trembanis

Arthur Trembanis picture

Associate Professor Oceanography

Project Team


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

Learn More
Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

Learn More
Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

Learn More

College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-2841
Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail:

Back to Top