Reliable maps of the seabed are essential for safe shipping and for effective management and conservation of the marine environment. While terrestrial maps are largely very accurate, seabed maps are much less so. Many 'current' nautical charts are based on data from the mid 19th century when depth was measured by lowering lead lines to the seabed at wide intervals.
The INIS Hydro project brings together seven partners from the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom to generate high-resolution bathymetric charts of 1400 km2 of key coastal seabed areas. Using a fleet of coastal survey vessels and multibeam sonar technology, our scientists produce and apply a standardised specification and survey seven seabed areas that are currently poorly charted but important navigation channels, have high environmental significance or are candidate areas for marine renewables development. On completion of survey operations, the data will be made freely available.
The project will thus contribute to complying with international Safety of Life at Sea requirements, will underpin all forms of marine data including marine geology, habitat and environmental information, and will also enhance oceanographic modelling and marine spatial planning.