Check out the sediment composition of the Dutch North Sea bed

For the first time in 20 years, the Geological Survey of the Netherlands has produced a new seabed-sediment map, or rather a series of three sediment maps, each with its own classification system and serving different end-user groups. Using tens of thousands of sediment descriptions and grain-size analyses, silt, sand and gravel contents were calculated for about 20,000 point locations. These were interpolated as accurately as possible to form full-coverage visualizations.

The maps were added to the GSN portal with subsurface models. Functionality to display point values and the probability of predicted sediment classes helps users make informed decisions.

Habitat in full view

As on land, the top layer of the seabed is home to countless organisms. The new map can be used to predict the suitability of this layer for different species, assemblages or habitat types. This is useful when implementing European policies and for responsible use of the North Sea. "This is a very nice product that can be used in habitat models for benthos and fish", explains Martin Baptist, marine ecologist at Wageningen Marine Research. He coordinates OR ELSE, an NWO project focusing on large-scale sand extraction with as little ecological impact as possible. A short explanatory text can be consulted on the portal. Later this year a detailed explanation of the map will be published in a scientific journal.