NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration: EM302 Multibeam Survey of the Sangihe-Talaud Region, North Sulawesi, Indonesia


The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has just completed a successful 2010 field season, including its first partnership-building mission to Indonesia, INDEX-SATAL 2010 (Indonesia Exploration Sangihe-Talaud region). The mission was part of President Obama’s initiative to build science and technology partnerships with Muslim nations. The Okeanos Explorer is equipped with progressive technology, including a Kongsberg EM302 (30 kHz) multibeam system with bottom backscatter and water column backscatter data collection capabilities. The mapping in the Sangihe-Talaud region of the Celebes Sea produced over 31,000 square kilometers of high resolution data, ranging in depth from 244 meters to more than 7000 meters. The mapped regions include the majority of the western side of the central Sangihe volcanic arc and a narrow transect across the arc in the south. A ~350 km long transect across the northern end of the central Sangihe arc was also mapped, north of the Talaud Islands, and extends eastward across the Sangihe Basin and Molucca Trench to the Philippine Trench. A recent synthesis of deep marine data by Pubellier et al. (2005)1 documents numerous active and inactive subduction zones of opposite polarity in this narrow region. The high resolution bathymetry reveals new details of the seafloor morphology in this complex tectonic regime. At least five seamounts were mapped, including an unknown 1500 meter high seamount and the volcano Kawio Barat, which rises approximately 3500 meters from the seafloor and is the site of white smokers and surprisingly dense and diverse deepwater biological communities. Several additional features were observed, including submarine channels, fans, debris aprons with blocks up to 800 meters in diameter, accretionary ridges and basins, trenches, and some flat topped seamounts. These well-defined features are consistent with the complex interactions between arc development, mass wasting, and subduction. These data provide new opportunities for further exploration in the Sangihe-Talaud region and work is already underway by regional experts in geology, geophysics, biology, and biogeography to use the Okeanos Explorer’s data to investigate the geological processes and biological diversity in this region.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Conference Date

Dec 13 - Dec 17, 2010

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding