Monday, 8 November 2010

Atlas of the Deep Water Seabed: Ireland launched at Geoscience 2010

The Geoscience Conference at Dublin Castle was chosen as the event where Mr. Conor Lenihan, T.D. Minister of State for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources officially unveiled the new Springer publication "Atlas of the Deep Water Seabed: Ireland" authored by Boris Dorschel and Andy Wheeler of University College Cork (UCC) and Xavi Monteys and Koen Verbruggen of the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI).

According to Springer, the book is "presented in an accessible, user-friendly format, this atlas sets out all the major features revealed during one of the largest ever deep-sea mapping campaigns. A unique insight into the morphology of the seabed along the continental margin of the North-East Atlantic, it reveals for the first time many features that have hitherto been hidden beneath the waves. It is organised both thematically and by region, with the sea floor and its biological hotspots – areas of high biodiversity such as seamounts – shown at a resolution not possible before. The atlas presents everything from submarine canyons to coral carbonate mounds, using digital terrain models generated from multibeam data and photographs taken from unmanned deep-water vehicles (ROVs).

The full-colour imagery includes digital three-dimensional seabed maps as well as the photographs, with concise text descriptions and topic boxes used to highlight and explain the geological, biological and hydrographical features, in addition to their importance and context in the deep-sea realm. Alongside the wealth of background information and topic boxes on special highlights, extensive on-line resources link the reader to full data sets and GIS locations, while suggestions for further reading point to ongoing research highlights. This is a fascinating resource that will be of use to anyone involved in off-shore and underwater activities, whether scientific or commercial."

View of the Gollum Channel, the largest marine channel system in Europe, situated on the Porcupine Seabight, off the southwest coast of Ireland. (Reference: Fig 7.22 "Gollum Channel" p. 59 Dorschel, B. et al (2010) "Atlas of the Deep-Water Seabed: Ireland" Springer.

View of corals, brinsingid sea stars, brittle stars, sponges living on sheer cliff faces called escarpments on the eastern Rockall Bank, about 400 km NW of Erris Head, Co. Mayo. Reference: Fig 9.7 "Fauna on the upper slope of an escarpment on the eastern Rockall Bank." p. 82 Dorschel, B. et al (2010) "Atlas of the Deep-Water Seabed: Ireland" Springer. Imagery from the 2009 Offshore Geogenic Reef Mapping Project are provided courtesy of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and the Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland as part of INFOMAR.

The Atlas is divided into 4 parts;

1. Background and Overview which gives background to INFOMAR predecessor the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS), introduces the data types collected during the surveys and familiarises the reader with the geographic locations of features that are discussed later in the book .

2. Thematic Atlas
This section separates the features seen on the seabed into categories and focuses individually on their location, formation and appearance. The features discussed are Canyons and Channels, Seamounts, Escarpments, Mound Features and Coral Carbonate Mounds and Iceberg Ploughmarks.

3. Regional Atlas
In the third section, the Irish seabed is divided into regions and the features seen in these regions are identified and investigated. The regions of interest are Southwest Approaches and Goban Spur, Porcupine Seabight, Porcupine Bank, Northernmost Irish Continental Margin, Rockall Trough, Rockall Bank and Hatton-Rockall Basin & Hatton Bank.

4. Going Deeper
This section deals with the INSS and INFOMAR data behind the images in the atlas and their availability online and free of charge here

Photograph of the authors of the Atlas with Mr. Conor Lenihan, T.D., second from left (R to L): Dr. Boris Dorschel (UCC), Dr. Andy Wheeler (UCC) and Xavi Monteys (GSI). Missing from photograph is the fourth author Koen Verbruggen (GSI). Photograph credit: Courtesy of Marine Institute

The atlas is currently available online at Springer and to order on Amazon and shortly in selected bookshops.

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