Continental shelf

Research Vessel White Ribbon

This team's focus is on developing a new series of very detailed sea bed geology maps based on multibeam and sidescan data that will allow a step-change in our understanding of the sea bed environment.

These new data will underpin the assessment of our marine resources and provide an important part of the framework for marine planning.

We are working closely with other marine organisations, including the UKHO, MCA, JNCC and CEFAS to develop a new national sea bed mapping initiative.

The data we collect is allowing new studies of marine habitats and a tremendous advance in our understanding of the last ice age and the dramatic climate change as the ice retreated.

Selected research

Walney wind farm.Sea bed development opportunities

The BGS is working with The Crown Estate to understand sea bed development opportunities across UK Continental Shelf, by creating a sea bed constraints analysis derived from new Geological Factor maps.

Spectacular white glass sponge forming part of a newly discovered reef on Anton Dohrn Seamount.Deep-water coral reefs in UK waters

2009: A BGS team led an offshore survey to East Rockall Bank and Anton Dohrn Seamount in the north-east Atlantic Ocean discovering previously unknown deep-water cold-water coral reefs.

RV White Ribbon on Windermere during the multibeam survey in September 2010MAREMAP

A joint initiative led by the BGS, the National Oceanography Centre and the Scottish Association for Marine Science to improve our understanding of the sea bed environment around the UK.

RV White Ribbon on Windermere during the multibeam survey in September 2010Marine biodiversity, habitats and sea bed geology studies

Recent studies include: the outer Bristol Channel (2006) and the East English Channel (2011); supported by Aggregates Levy and MESH.

Perspective, colour-shaded view of sea floor looking west from Ullapool towards the Summer Isles. Shallow banks are white/pink; deep troughs are blue/dark blue. Scotland's fjords

Between 2005 and 2009, the BGS undertook a study of the fjord coastline in the Summer Isles region, west of Ullapool, including Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom; initiating a primary marine geological survey of Scotland's fjords.

In Loch Lomond at Inverglass looking approximately north Surveying the Loch Lomond 'canyon'

2011: The BGS and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority collaborated to produce a new navigation chart of Loch Lomond.

BGS scientists at the controls of the White RibbonUnderwater survey of Loch Eribol, Scotland

2010: a multibeam survey of Loch Eriboll — the only deepwater sea loch on the north coast of Scotland — to produce a detailed bathymetric map.

RV White Ribbon on Windermere during the multibeam survey in September 2010Windermere: lake environment & glacial history

2012: A PhD project investigating modern and glacial environments and processes in Windermere; producing a new bathymetric map from a multibeam survey.


Contact Rhys Cooper for more information on marine and geological mapping