Surficial Geology: The Third Dimension in Habitat Mapping

Surficial Geology: The Third Dimension in Habitat Mapping

J. Vaughn Barrie and Kim W. Conway

Surficial Geology: The Third Dimension in Habitat MappingThis is part of Marine Habitat Mapping Technology for Alaska
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Surficial geological maps provide a two dimensional interpretation of the morphology, sediment texture, physical properties, and origin of the sediment making up the seafloor. What lies on the surface of the seafloor, however, can be better understood when applying a third dimension to this surface. An understanding of the Quaternary history is critical for determining geomorphic features, such as drowned coastal and terrestrial deposits or glacial deposits. By integrating three-dimensional surficial geology and fish habitats in a GIS environment, it is then possible to analyze the geospatial information interactively. For example, on the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada, there is a strong correlation between the spatial distribution of different fish species and particular surficial geological units and morphological features. Hexactinellid sponge reefs, which form critical habitat for juvenile rockfish, can only be understood and mapped once imaged as a three dimensional structure. These examples demonstrate the association of geoscience and habitat, and it is from these associations that a better understanding of the total ecosystem can be made and ultimately managed.

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