INFOMAR had a focused presence at the recent GeoHab2019 conference which took place in St. Petersburg in Russia from 13th-17th May.
GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) is an annual conference attended by an international association of marine scientists with the aim of exchanging knowledge and ideas underpinning sustainable ocean management and mapping. The conference addressed eight overarching themes related to geological and biological habitat mapping comprising: Submerged Landscapes and Archaeology; Shelf and Deep Sea Habitats; Coastal and Shallow Water Habitats; Mapping, Planning and Impact Assessment for Ocean Energy; Marine Minerals; Deep-Water Coral Habitats; Seeps and Hydrates; and Interactions Between Oceanographic Processes and Habitats.
The conference kicked off with a workshop on Seafloor Geomorphology. The workshop with 70 participants was hosted by MIM (MAREANO-INFOMAR-MAREMAP) which sees the seabed mapping programmes of Norway, Ireland and the UK collaborate to share knowledge and methodologies for mapping the seafloor.
The workshop focused on approaches to geomorphological mapping, including talks from keynote speakers e.g. Peter Harris presented on the merits of geomorphological mapping and its application to ecosystem science and Vincent Lecours spoke on morphometric and quantitative applications with geomorphological mapping.
The results of a questionnaire circulated to participants before the workshop were presented and provided the context for the day in terms of the approaches, software and challenges in geomorphological mapping. An interactive mapping exercise followed and participants were invited to manually map features and discuss their findings. The afternoon session involved a demonstration of software tools to assist geomorphological mapping. The workshop concluded with an open forum and discussion. A workshop report and content material will shortly be available on the GeoHab website.
INFOMAR also presented the most recent results of the INFOMAR supported EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) SeaRover (Sensitive Ecosystem Assessment and ROV Exploration of Reef) surveys. The funding and management structure was presented along with new discoveries of the deep water coral and sponges identified in the north-east Atlantic Ocean offshore Ireland.
The project commissioned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service is funded by the EMFF, and managed by Ireland’s Marine Institute. Survey planning, acquisition and data delivery are coordinated by INFOMAR. The objective of the three year project is to implement the EMFF’s Marine Biodiversity Scheme - Natura Fisheries by mapping offshore reef habitats with a view to protecting them from deterioration due to fishing pressures. Findings have contributed to the provision of conservation objectives for the offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The results will enable the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) to fulfil their ongoing obligation to map vulnerable fisheries resources.
Initial results of the Tectonic Ocean Spreading at the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone (TOSCA) research project were presented on behalf of the project consortium. Research ship time undertaken in 2018 and supported by INFOMAR has resulted in bountiful geological, geophysical and biological data that are now under scientific scrutiny. The results have implications for our understanding of seafloor spreading processes at the mid-Atlantic ridge, chemical interactions between the lithosphere and hydrosphere and habitat diversity at this remote location.
INFOMAR data are an important baseline dataset that lends us vital understanding for our marine environment. These data are used to characterise fundamental aspects of the marine environment and are used to create maps for European Commission funded projects such as EMODnet. Many of the poster presentations and lightening talks at GeoHab19 illustrated the diversity and importance of seabed mapping data, results, products, and applications.
Finally, there were projects presented by marine scientists from across Europe which incorporate INFOMAR data into their work. Examples include Thierry Schmitt’s (SHOM) presentation on behalf of the EMODnet High Resolution Seabed Mapping Consortium which works towards compiling all bathymetric data in European seas to create a harmonised Digital Terrain Model (DTM). Irish Marine Geoscientist, Dr. Mark Coughlan (iCRAG) made use of INFOMAR data to support marine renewable energy development in Irish seas which was demonstrated in the presentation on Geomorphological and Geological Constraint Mapping for Renewable Energy Development in the Irish Sea. Dr. Annika Clements (formerly Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland and now Seafish) presented on mapping in support of Marine Protected Area designation and management as part of a collaboration with the Geological Survey Ireland / INFOMAR.
For more information on GeoHab, visit https://geohab2019.org/.