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Australia’s underwater wonder in never-before-seen detail

19 January 2018

Joint media release with the Minister for Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.

  • The Australian Government is releasing 1.5 million square kilometres of sea floor data which provide the first high-resolution map of the entire Great Barrier Reef.
  • The sea floor mapping data, or bathymetry data, released today by Geoscience Australia are the product of a four-year joint project between the Government and James Cook University to shed light on the reef’s unique marine geography. The Great Barrier Reef dataset will support a range of policy, planning and scientific work; in particular providing important information for the environmental management of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The Great Barrier Reef dataset will support a range of policy, planning and scientific work; in particular providing important information for the environmental management of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government has released the first high-resolution map of the sea floor of the entire Great Barrier Reef.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan and Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg announced the release of the data today, saying it would be an invaluable tool for the future environmental management of this Australian natural wonder.

Minister Canavan said these data are the product of a four-year scientific partnership between Geoscience Australia, James Cook University (JCU) and the Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS).

“The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon and Queenslanders are lucky to call it their own. Having 1.5 million square kilometres of data shows us the reef’s structure and the underwater geography of the region on an unprecedented scale,” Minister Canavan said.

The Minister said this was the first high-resolution dataset in a series that Geoscience Australia would release covering large parts of the Northern Australian coastline in the collaborative project with JCU and the AHS.

“Geoscience Australia has provided funding and leadership to deliver these datasets over the next two years, and has worked with the AHS to bring its vast holdings of marine data to the project,” Minister Canavan said.

“This series will provide a detailed view of the marine geography of our northern coastline, assisting to maintain safety at sea, law enforcement and broader government and commercial operations.”

Minister Frydenberg welcomed the release of the data, which he said represented a big step forward for the environmental management of the Reef.

“The quality of this huge dataset gives government agencies access to the information they need to make the right decisions to protect the reef for future generations,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“This is a treasure trove of data and it will be put to a range of uses, including research into marine ecosystems and oceanographic and tidal modelling, which among other things helps better predict storm surges along the Queensland coast.”

Media contacts: Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180
                            Minister Frydenberg's office 02 6277 7920

Fast facts

  • Geoscience Australia is releasing high-resolution sea floor maps showing the Great Barrier Reef in unprecedented detail.
  • The data are the result of a four-year collaborative project with James Cook University and the Australian Hydrographic Service. This project combined historical and newly-acquired bathymetry data of the coastline of Northern Australia.
  • The full data are available at: [https://ecat.ga.gov.au/geonetwork/srv/eng/search#!0f4e635c-81ec-46d0-9c99-65e5fe0b8c01]

The new bathymetry data shows significantly more detail in the area around Fraser Island. 

The new bathymetry data shows significantly more detail in the area around Fraser Island. 

The new dataset covers the entire Great Barrier Reef.