Atlantic Canyons DEEP SEARCH

Image courtesy of Deepwater Canyons 2013 - Pathways to the Abyss, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

Deep Sea Exploration to Advance Research on Coral, Canyon and Cold seep Habitats


DEEP SEARCH was launched in September 2017 as a multi-agency 5-year study of deep-sea coral, canyon, and gas seep ecosystems in U.S. federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, including offshore Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

The goal of the study is to augment the ability to predict the location of seafloor communities off the Atlantic coast of the Southeast US that are potentially sensitive to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. This area encompasses a variety of different habitat types, including submarine canyons, cold-water coral mounds and gardens, methane seeps, and soft sediments. Specifically, this project will explore and characterize the biological communities of the study area, examine the sensitivity of habitat-structuring fauna and associated communities to natural and anthropogenic disturbance, and describe the oceanographic, geological, geochemical, and acoustic conditions associated with each habitat type.

This study will improve our understanding of the habitats and communities in offshore areas of the Atlantic Large Marine Ecosystem and will contribute to the environmental information needed to address current and emerging science and management issues, in particular with respect to the potential development of energy and marine mineral resources in the area.

DEEP SEARCH is an initiative of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). Three federal agencies (BOEM, USGS, and NOAA), along with TDI-Brooks international, Inc. as the prime contractor and seven academic institutions, serve as partners in the project. NOPP is a federally mandated initiative that coordinates and develops collaborative ocean research efforts among Federal, state and tribal governments, academia, private industry, and non-governmental organizations.


September 11 - 28, 2017 aboard the Pisces: On this first cruise of the DEEP SEARCH program, scientists used a combination of mapping with water column profiling and sampling to improve knowledge of the geology along the U.S. continental margin, the types of communities found on the seafloor, and the mid-water communities that interact with them. See more about the mission of this expedition here & Mission logs

August 19 - September 2018 aboard the Atlantis: See more about the mission of this expedition here and follow #DeepSearch on Twitter

April 9 - 30, 2019 aboard NOAA's ship the Ronald H. Brown: From April 9 to 30, 2019, NOAA and partners at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Geological Survey will conduct a research expedition on NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown to collect critical baseline information about deepwater habitats offshore the U.S. Mid- and South Atlantic coastsLearn more hereRead the expedition summary here.

More Information


Also see our partners' pages: 

BOEM Environmental Studies Program  

#DeepSearch Social Media 

The best way to keep track of DEEP SEARCH activities is by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We will be primarily using the ECOGIG social media channels and the #DeepSearch hashtag.

Facebook: @ecogig.outreach

Twitter: @DeepseaECOGIG@OceanDeepSearch

Instagram: @ecogig 

Scientists' Twitter Accounts:

Erik Cordes @CordesLab 

Amanda Demopoulos @ademopoulos

Samantha (Mandy) Joye @seepexplorer

Andrea Quattrini @quattrinia

Chris Kellog @DrChrisKellogg

Alexis Weinnig @AMWeinnig


NOAA @oceanexplorer

National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) @thenopp




Press Releases & Announcements

Press Release (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), September 12, 2017: "Federal Ocean Partnership Launches DEEP SEARCH Study Off the Mid- and South Atlantic Coast"

Press Release (U.S. Geological Survey), September 13, 2017: "Federal Ocean Partnership Launches DEEP SEARCH Study of Coral, Canyons and Seeps Off the Mid- and South Atlantic Coast

TDI-Brooks International DEEP SEARCH Announcement

BOEM Announcement of August/September 2018 Atlantis Expedition

BOEM Announcement of April 2019 Expedition

Press Regarding Discoveries on the April 2019 Expedition:

The State:

Huffington Post:

Fox News:



October 1, 2016 - September 30, 2017

April 9 - April 30, 2019

Institutional Partners 

Federal Partners:

     Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
     National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration & Research (NOAA OER)
     United States Geological Survey

Academic Partners (coordinated by TDI-Brooks International, Inc.):

     Temple University (Lead principal investigator and project manager Dr. Erik Cordes)
     University of Georgia
     Nova Southeastern University
     Florida State University
     Harvey Mudd College
     University of New Hampshire
     Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research

Our Partner Institutions