BOEM’s New National Marine Minerals Information System Enhances Coastal Recovery and Resilience Planning

MMIS maps offshore sand information for managing physical sediment resources in the OCS

02-14-2019

Contacts: Marjorie Weisskohl
703-787-1304

 MMIS Viewer
MMIS viewer showing sand resources
offshore North Carolina’s Outer Banks

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

The release of the MMIS marks 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 https://mmis.doi.gov/BOEMMMIS.

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.

“The launch of the MMIS is a tremendous accomplishment for BOEM’s management of offshore mineral resources for the nation,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “BOEM is the federal government's steward of offshore sediment resources, and it’s critical that we have organized and easy access to as much information as possible about these resources and where they are located. Making this data available through the MMIS is a huge step forward for coastal resilience efforts and disaster relief decision-making. Years of hard work and collaboration have brought it to fruition.”

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
  • Links to environmental studies and assessments, data from state cooperative agreements

“We are honored that the geospatial industry has recognized this achievement as well,” noted Renee Orr, BOEM’s Chief of the Office of Strategic Resources. BOEM’s contractor for the project, Quantum Spatial, Inc., received the prestigious MAPPS Geospatial Products and Services Excellence award for this project during the Geo Week MAPPS 2019 Winter Conference in the Geographic Information Systems/Information Technology (GIS/IT) category.

For more information on the MMIS and the Marine Minerals Program, see https://mmis.doi.gov/BOEMMMIS and https://www.boem.gov/Marine-Minerals-Program/.