Marine Minerals Data Available For Planning Coastal Resilience

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) launched the Marine Minerals Information System (MMIS), a state-of-the-art tool to assist decision-makers in managing coastal recovery and planning coastal resilience projects.

The release of the MMIS is a big step forward in BOEM’s efforts to build a National Offshore Sand Inventory, providing offshore sediment data including data and information from 30 years of BOEM-funded research and data from more than 40 partner organizations. The information on offshore sand and gravel covers resources throughout the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific outer continental shelf (OCS). The MMIS is accessible at

The goal of the National Offshore Sand Inventory and MMIS is to help to reduce response time in disaster recovery and facilitate long-term planning to strengthen the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure. Ensuring all parties have access to detailed offshore information is critical to responsible decision-making.

OCS sand and gravel resources are vital sources of material for the construction of coastal protection and restoration projects, including efforts to protect coastal communities, national defense facilities, and federal and state infrastructure. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for OCS sediment for planned projects, as well as for emergency needs to restore areas damaged by natural disasters. On a national scale, little is known about the character, quantity, and location of sand resources on the OCS and the habitat it provides for biological communities.

Proponents of planned infrastructure projects are requesting higher volumes of OCS sediment, driven by diminishing resources in state waters and a high frequency of recent storms along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Further, given the significant number of other ocean users (e.g., energy infrastructure, fiber optic telecommunication cables, electrical transmission lines and fisheries), BOEM strives to reduce or eliminate the potential for multiple use conflicts or environmental impacts that could result from marine minerals projects. This can make it challenging to identify new potential areas from which to borrow or dredge sediment.

As the system continues to grow and mature, BOEM plans to add more features and data sets. Key MMIS features include: more than30 years of BOEM-funded geological and geophysical research data; data from more than40 partners in federal, state and local government, academia and other entities; a viewer with more than 20 available data layers; sediment data offshore 18 coastal states; GIS-mapping capabilities; tools to download data into geodatabases, shapefiles or .csv files; statistics on sand volume, number of projects, number of states and use trends; and links to environmental studies, assessments and data from state cooperative agreements. —BOEM

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