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Ocean Careers

Seafloor Mapping in Action

SONAR, short for SOund NAvigation and Ranging, is a tool that uses sound waves to explore the ocean. Scientists primarily use sonar data to develop nautical charts, locate hazards to navigation, search for and identify objects in the water column and on the seafloor, and map the seafloor itself. Multibeam and side-scan sonar are two of the most commonly used sonar tools in ocean exploration. It takes a team of mapping experts to process all of the data that is generated by sonar methods. The raw sounding data is taken from the transducers (sound detection sensors) and is used to create 3D bathymetric maps of the seafloor. Mapping is often the first step to planning a dive course for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Mapping the entire U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a major goal for U.S. expeditions.

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