dbSEABED: Information Integration System for
Marine Substrates
Publications and Reports
The Partners Example Outputs
 Ocean Drilling Helpful

dbSEABED creates unified, detailed mappings of the materials that make the seafloor by efficiently integrating thousands of individual datasets. The goal is to bring decades of seabed information - and today's latest information - from marine geology, biology, engineering and surveys into one seabed mapping that can fulfil the community needs for ocean-bottom information on many spatial scales. The system deals with seabed texture, composition, acoustic properties, colour, geology and biology.

Many software tools can work on the rich integrated data: Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Relational Databases (RDB), modeling, visualisation, and stratigraphic .  

Huge data entry efficiencies come from programs that prepare the data for use in standard databases. As evidence of its efficiency, the US, Australian and global coverages together hold integrated data for over 3,000 datasets and 5 million described seafloor sites. The system is vendor-independent and code is shared, so the system will be a legacy well into the future.

The scope of the project is large: global extent, shorelines to abyss, across all national jurisdictions, public and donated data, numerical and text data types.

Seafloor Substrates mapping, Google Earth View

Google Earth view over GoMex

This very coarse resolution view shows the provincial variations of exposed rock and seabed textures for the states Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. It is one of the  public data offerings from dbSEABED. More detailed, extensive data is used for the research.

To look further, visit HERE  or put this URL "http://instaar.colorado.edu/~jenkinsc/dbseabed/kml/dbS_global.kml" into your GoogleEarth 'Add/Network Link' tool as "dbSEABED" and double-click. 

The Outputs Available to Users
  • Pointwise data at the level of individual samples and observations, integrated and harmonized from the inputs of the third-party datasets. Formatted as text tables, CSV, Shapefiles, Pandas, etc.
  • Rasterized (cellwise) data with statistics of the averages and variances. Formatted as ESRI grids, GeoTiffs, NetCDF, etc.
  • Interpolated mappings rendered as griddings, or vectorized to Shapefiles. Formatted as ESRI grids, GeoTiffs, NetCDF, etc.
  • Specialized visualizations of coring results and subbottom distributions. Formatted as VRML, database, etc.
  • The parameters supplied are sediment textures (gravel, sand, mud, grainsize average and sorting, Folk codes); composition (carbonate, organic carbon); grain types; mesoscopic features; seabed colour,  roughness dimensions.  
Public datasets include the KML Global Mapping and miscellaneous data offerings through partners such as NOAA. Otherwise contact the Systems House (INSTAAR) for data.

A brief Data Agreement is usually required for data supply, with a project abstract attached. Data is supplied on a per-project basis to prevent circulation of out-of-date versions and the data not used in a fit-for-purpose way on projects. A service fee may be charged for development, supply and technical support.

dbSEABED provides data pro bono to selected student research thesis projects, particularly those leading to a degree.

The project always appreciates new data to add to the system and information from users on their applications for the data. 

Global Coverage in the Compositions of Seabed Materials

  The system at last tally had over 5 million described samples at 3 million sites worldwide.  This has been possible to assemble through the generosity and efforts of collaborators, and also through the use of software for data entry, integration and quality checking.

Advancing with Substrates' Mapping for the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Seabed sediments
(Click to enlarge)

First whole-of Arctic surficial sediment coverages now available at various resolutions (August 2020). This particular coverage is of the sand fraction, interpolated on an x,y and z (water depth) inverse-distance metric.
(Click to Enlarge.) Points mark the presently available data sites. 
dbSEABED is now able to produce mappings for any region in any chosen map projection, such as this one, which is
in IBCAO Polar Stereographic at resolution 10km cellsize.


The scale of operation is local, national and global: shorelines, bays, seaways, national EEZ's, ocean basins, and worldwide. The database deals with coastal, estuarine, inshore, continental shelf, continental slope and very deep sea environments.

Point-data based, so spatial resolution improves as more datasets are added. Gridded and vector mappings of the seafloor materials are computed from the point-data coverages. Accuracies are the same as for the original survey data; system precision is 1m; datum is WGS84.

Seabed Coring Datasets - Databased and Visualized

(Click to enlarge)

As shown in this example from Ship Shoal, Louisiana, dbSEABED has the capability to integrate seabed-penetrating core information, lodge it in database (of client choosing) and then also to create a 3D fly-through interface for querying the data. Statistics on the subbottom composition and layering are also computed. Surface sediment samples are also a component. Built for the  CoreWall project and German North Sea geoacoustics.

operated by a number of cooperating institutions, who import, integrate, process and display regional datasets under a common format and software setup. They share data, code and innovations. Some organizations use dbSEABED on their secure premises where they add their own specialized datasets to the group data holdings.

Quality assurance
is achieved by checks on data at data entry (including always, operator scrutiny), by error-trapping in the data-processing software, and by working the data intensively in various collaborative research programs. dbSEABED was devised to be robust in an inexact and incomplete information environment - marine geosciences. An uncertainty budget is calculated with map outputs.

The most common applications are real input data for numerical models, ecological benthic habitat mappings, lithological compositions of  sediments, sediment template to guide biogeochemical studies and budgets.

Seafloor Dominant Texture Classes, NW Europe

(Click to enlarge)

dbSEABED display of dominant seafloor type for the NW European Shelf (North Sea) region. This regional  coverage was developed to help with a numerical modeling of tides. It represents over 60,000 sites all from public data sources. The detailed gridded data is available on request.

Date: 09 Sept 2019
Copyright 2007-19, dbSEABED partners