Utah Water Science Center
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Salton Sea Bathymetry
Project Chief: Robert Baskin, USGS Salt Lake City, Utah
A plan for long-term maintenance and possible restoration of the Salton Sea is being developed. However, physical parameters of the Salton Sea such as bathymetry, area, volume, lake-bottom characteristics, benthic substrate composition, as well as other geophysical, limnological, and biological aspects of the Salton Sea are not well understood. These components are critical in establishing the foundation for physical and ecological assessments of the Sea and in defining the geo-hazards related to faulting beneath the Sea. A systematic development of physical baseline data is important in any ecosystem-based approach to quantitatively understanding the Salton Sea ecosystem and observing/mitigating anthropogenic impacts.
The main objectives of the proposed research are to collect bathymetric data and determine sea-bottom substrate for selected areas along the shallow margins of the Salton Sea. Data will be collected in conjunction with current on-sea efforts by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Relevance and Benefits
The study will contribute to the USGS mission by integrating multiple facets of the USGS science strategy for 2007–2017. The management of the Nation’s land, water, and ecosystem resources typically requires weighing tradeoffs among multiple criteria concerning multiple resources. The importance of identifying and understanding critical interdependencies is especially acute in decisions that require anticipating the interactive effects of changes in climate and changes in human resource management. In collaboration with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (Scripps), the University of California system, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the Imperial Irrigation District, the USGS Utah Water Science Center (UWSC) will provide critical information on the conditions of part of the Nation’s freshwater and coastal/marine ecosystems, study the causes and consequences of ecological change, and interpret for policymakers how current and future rates of change will affect natural resources and society.
The USGS will conduct the data acquisition, pre-processing, and interpretation of swath bathymetric data in cooperation with geophysicists from Scripps. The USGS also will survey and process shallow-water areas in the extreme southern and northern areas of the Sea using a narrow-beam bathymetric surveying system. Data will be processed daily and will be used to ensure complete spatial coverage of the swath survey area, and structured survey transects utilizing the single-beam system. The USGS will provide logistical support in the planning and navigational control aspects of data collection, acquisition of various geophysical data throughout the Sea including CHIRP and Sparker geophysical data, and instrumentation and sound-velocity control data for the project.
The USGS will supply pre-processed digital swath bathymetry, side-scan sonar, and navigation digital products for inclusion in the State of California Salton Sea database and in subsequent interpretive data products. Digital products will be generated interactively during the data-collection process and used on-the-fly to guide subsequent data-collection efforts. Processed data will be supplied to the cooperators in digital form and interpretations of findings will be published in a series of presentations, posters, journal articles, and a summary “State of the Sea” report. Processed data have been supplied to the cooperator and preparation of the “State of the Sea” report is currently underway.