College of Charleston geology BEAMS (Benthic Acoustic Mapping and Survey) students earned top honors in March 2015 for their analysis of seafloor around the world. Presenting their research at the annual meeting of the Hydrographic Society of America, seven Cougars swept the awards, just like the College of Charleston did at the conference in 2013.
The College’s BEAMS students are specially trained in seafloor mapping techniques and are required to spend days at sea aboard the 92-foot research vessel Savannah to complete their work. Less than one percent of the ocean floor has been mapped in detail, so the sky, er, the sea is the limit when it comes to exploring uncharted underwater territory. As Leslie “Doc” Sautter, an associate professor of geology and BEAMS leader explains:
“There is much to be gained from continued mapping of the seabed: These studies not only generate important information, they also contribute toward training a new generation of scientists and marine surveyors. I don’t ‘teach’ research to my students; they discover it. To me, it’s about exploration, discovery and the directions in which our students can go.”
This year’s winners and their research topics include:
1st Place: Friedrich Knuth ’14 – Fish habitats being studied for marine protected areas
2nd Place: Mary Eaton and Monica Steele – Seismically active ridges off the Washington and Oregon coasts
3rd Place (tie): Hannah Yates – Folded and faulted rock outcrops of Ireland’s western continental shelf
3rd Place (tie): Garth Groshans – Seamounts off the New England coast that may have produced submarine landslides
4th Place: Rachel Wireman and Shelby Bowden – Folded and faulted rock outcrops of Ireland’s southwestern continental shelf
The student researchers were aided by Josh Mode ’09, a former BEAMS student now employed by CARIS, a maker of geospatial software for the marine community that has partnered with the College of Charleston. Mode returns to campus at least twice a year to help trains students taking Sautter’s “Introduction to Seafloor Mapping” course.
View more pictures of the winning researchers and other students on Facebook.