US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



NRDA Tier 1 for Deepwater Communities


U.S. Government Work.


The northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is geologically diverse basin, described as the most complex continental slope region in the world. Regional topography of the slope consists of basins, knolls, ridges, and mounds derived from the dynamic adjustments of salt and the introduction of large volumes of sediment over long time scales. More than 99% of the sea floor in the GOM consists of soft sediment made up of various mixtures of primarily silt and clay. These wide-spread soft bottom communities are described in reports from major MMS studies by Gallaway et al. (1998) and Rowe and Kennicutt (2009). Relative to soft bottoms, hard bottoms and their associated communities are relatively uncommon by are notable for their high biodiversity and complexity.