Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor Australia campaign 2020-2021
January 13, 2021

Author: Beaman, R.J.

Year: 2021

Publication: Schmidt Ocean Institute RV Falkor Australia campaign 2020-2021, Sub-Committee on Regional Undersea Mapping (SCRUM), GEBCO Week, 11-15 January 2021. General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), Virtually from Paris, France.


The Schmidt Ocean Institute has conducted a year-long campaign of ocean floor mapping within Australian waters with their Research Vessel Falkor. Equipped with Kongsberg EM710 and EM302 multibeam mapping systems, the Falkor has been near-continuously mapping during the clockwise transit around Australia, commencing in January 2020 and continuing into 2021. Early effort was made to provide mapping permits covering all Commonwealth marine parks that were being transited during repositions between expedition sites.

Examples of the bathymetric mapping are shown for the various expedition sites commencing at Bremer Canyon at southwestern Western Australia, to Ningaloo Canyon at northern Western Australia, then for the five expeditions conducted within the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Marine Parks. The talk concludes with summary statistics showing the ship track distance covered is ~39,088 nm, equivalent to ~1.8 times around the equator. The square km mapped is ~88,535, equivalent to an area greater than South Carolina (USA) or of Austria (Europe).

The high number of collaborators during this series of Falkor expeditions was emphasised, including that many were remotely involved through satellite communication. Marine science students were an important part of these voyages and Symposium attendees were requested to include students wherever possible during future Seabed 2030 project expeditions. The new map data are being made available through rapid data publishing on the AusSeabed Marine Data Portal.

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