Building a National Offshore Sand Inventory

 MMIS Viewer
MMIS shows sand resources offshore

Outer Continental Shelf (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.

At the same time, proponents of planned infrastructure projects are requesting larger volumes of OCS sediment, driven by diminishing resources in state waters and the frequency and magnitude 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 project areas.

As the sole steward of OCS marine minerals, BOEM needs to understand where sand resources are located and how much may be available for coastal protection and restoration projects. 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. These sand resources are most critical along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, with an evolving interest in the Pacific and Alaska regions.

To meet these challenges, BOEM has launched the Marine Minerals Information System (MMIS) as part of the National Offshore Sand Inventory 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. To learn more about the inventory, watch this presentation:

Benefits of the MMIS:

By consolidating offshore sediment data from multiple sources, notably BOEM-funded research, the MMIS offers a one-stop, state-of-the-art interactive tool that provides public access to data and information relevant to offshore mineral resources throughout the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific OCS. It is accessible at

Key MMIS Features:

  • More than 30 years of BOEM-funded geological and geophysical research data
  • Data from more than 40 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
  • Links to environmental studies and assessments, data from state cooperative agreements

ScienceHighlightsExpandButton How does the MMIS viewer work?

ScienceHighlightsExpandButton What types of information does the MMIS contain?

ScienceHighlightsExpandButton What is on the dashboard?

ScienceHighlightsExpandButton Does the MMIS provide environmental data?

ScienceHighlightsExpandButton Where can I find additional information on offshore sand resources?

ScienceHighlightsExpandButton Examples of Equipment Used in Conducting Offshore Sand Surveys