Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

Northern Central California Coast State Waters Mapping Project (NCCMP)

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Rikk Kvitek
    California State University, Monterey Bay
  • Guy Cochrane
    United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Jerry Wilson
  • Gary Greene
    Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, California State University


  • California Ocean Protection Council
  • California Coastal Conservancy
  • Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation
Start Date: September 08, 2006
End Date: December 31, 2007

During the December 2005 California Statewide Marine Mapping Planning Workshop ( participants ranked all California state waters between Stinson Beach and Año Nuevo as the highest priority area in need of mapping along the Northern Central California coast (Monterey to Bodega Bay).

In fall of 2006, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) authorized the California Coastal Conservancy (CCC) and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation (MBSF) to fund a proposal submitted by the CSUMB Seafloor Mapping Lab (SFML) and its partners (USGS, FPI and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories) to begin mapping these highest priority areas.

The purpose of this project, which is currently underway, is to map the state water seafloor habitats (MHHW out to 3 nm) from Año Nuevo to Bolinas (NCCMP Phase I). We assembled a team of California’s most experienced seafloor mapping experts from academia, private industry and government to produce an unprecedented set of seafloor geology and habitat maps consistent with the workshop recommendations and needed to address critical state resource management issues. Acquisition of mapping data is being accomplished using bathymetric LIDAR and multibeam echo sounders (MBES) to obtain both bathymetry data and acoustic backscatter and reflectance imagery.

This proposal also included a potential matching fund commitment from the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) to extend and double the latitudinal range of the current mapping northward to Bodega Bay. The CDFG and MLPA process have now identified the north central coast (Pigeon Point north to Point Arena) as the next leg of the MLPA Initiative for the designation of MPA network sites. As a result, and because of the great and urgent need for seafloor habitat information in that region, the additional focus area further extends the NCCMP survey footprint north to Pt Arena. NCCMP Phase II (Bolinas to Point Arena) covers from the 3 nm state waters boundary into the 20 m isobath.

Summary to Date

Phase I: Año Nuevo-Stinson Beach (from MHHW to 3 nm)

1) Offshore Data Acquisition - completed
2) LIDAR Data Acquisition – incomplete

3) Nearshore Data Acquisition – completed
4) Groundtruth - in progress

Phase II: Bolinas- Point Arena (from 20 m to 3 nm)

1) Multibeam acquisition completed

2) Groundtruth- scheduled for 2008

Study Parameters

  • Maps
  • Substrate characterization
  • Geological characterization

Study Methods

A combination of state-of-the-industry airborne bathymetric LIDAR and vessel-based multibeam echo sounder (MBES) remote sensing methods will yield continuous data coverage of the state waters within the project area. Surveys are designed to meet or exceed IHO order 1 standards, and carried out at the maximum resolution obtainable. The resulting data is being ground-truthed using video and physical sediment samples, and combined and integrated with pre-existing data to generate the basic Tier 1 and derivative Tier 2 GIS map products as recommended in the Mapping Workshop Final Report. Additionally, because we recognize the value in and seek to promote the creation of interpreted Tier 3 habitat and geologic map products, as recommend in the workshop report (but not required in the RFP), we plan to create a variety of Tier 3 demonstration products for a limited but critical subset of the project areas surveyed. All results and products will be archived in GIS compatible format, with embedded FGDC-compliant metadata, and made available on-line to maximize their utility and public dissemination.