Monday, 27 January 2014 Back to News

Annual MAREMAP Meeting And Conference Report

A Report On November's Annual MAREMAP Meeting And Conference

"We are at the start of a new generation of producing offshore geological maps"
Dr. Keith Westhead, BGS, speaking at the Annual Conference.

Mapping and monitoring our marine environment is a large and growing problem for a number of reasons, ranging from policy drivers to environmental and economic change.

The research presented at a well-received MAREMAP Annual Conference, held at the Royal Society in Edinburgh between 19th and 21st November 2013, is taking major steps towards meeting this need.

Each MAREMAP partner offered new and groundbreaking developments in coastal mapping, and where they can or have been applied in industry and conservation.

In his talk, 'Pushing the Boundaries', Keith Westhead described how techniques such as swath bathymetry and airborne LIDAR technology are being used to survey the coast in much greater detail. The real challenge, he said, was in the interpretation of this data.

Dr. Ken Games described how the mobility of the seabed affects building in the North Sea has important applications for the oil and gas industries, as well as for the siting of wind farms. He concluded that there are areas in the North Sea where the mass movement of the surficial sands are significant. The oil and gas industry has now successfully adopted ways of coping with this mobile seabed.

"Access to futuristic digital data sets makes my job possible"
Dr. Tom Bradwell, BGS

Dr. Tom Bradwell discussed how new mapping of the seafloor around Northern Scotland reveals the detailed pattern of submarine glacial platforms, in an exciting time for ice sheet research. Mapping the seabed at higher resolutions using techniques like multibeam bathymetry means that we can develop better models of the impact of ice sheet decay.

The ambitious INIS Hydro survey uncovered valuable evidence of past glaciation in areas chosen for their environmental significance, their risk to navigation or their implications for marine renewables, said Dr. John Howe. He presented results from a 120-day survey of the Firth of Lorn in 2012, including the Corryvreckan whirlpool between Scabra and Jura.

"Any fool can make a map, you really have to go and test it!"
Dr. Kerry Howell

Protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems is a conservation priority. The predictively modeled maps, made using high-resolution multibeam, offer a way forward, according to Dr. Kerry Howell. In her talk, she concentrated on cold water coral reef, deep sea sponge aggregations and xenophyophore aggregations. She urged the importance of testing models before applying them to conservation across the board.

Bringing the conference to a close, Dr. Russell Wynn summarised that the key issue was were we want to be in 10 years time. He said it would be nice to have 100% mapping of the UK offshore area, to have more examples of successful and comprehensive surveys, and a fit-for-purpose monitoring network. "I think it will be achievable but we need more people and organisations to get involved", he concluded.

Let's get to work!

Many thanks to all those who contributed to a great conference! Let's hope that next year we can offer even more advances in the important field of marine mapping. For a full report on the Conference and its speakers, please contact us.