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The USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) has actively collected geophysical data in the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean for several decades, including both shallow subsurface reflection data and deeper “blue water” reflection data. Prior to the early 1990’s most geophysical data were collected in analog format as paper rolls, up to 25 m long, of continuous profiles.  WHCMSC currently holds hundreds of geophysical surveys in its paper repository that are vulnerable to degradation or loss and are inaccessible to most researchers because they are not available digitally. As part of a bureau-wide effort, WHCMSC is scanning its analog geophysical holdings into TIFF images.  From TIFF format, they will be converted to industry standard SEG-Y format using open-source software and distributed to the public using The USGS Coastal and Marine Geoscience Data System (CMGDS).  Access to these resources will help to inform future surveys, especially by preventing costly redundant marine-geophysical surveys.  Early efforts to rescue these historical data have helped plan more efficient data collection in the deep Atlantic (Law of the Sea), reduce the number of survey lines needed in a study of the Chesapeake Bay, and provided subsurface geologic information to correlate with modern surficial data from Lake George, NY. 

Science Support Framework Category: Science Data Lifecycle - Preservation

Author(s): Matt Arsenault ( - USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

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