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CCU receives quarter million dollar grant for marine geophysics software

July 3, 2003

Coastal Carolina University's Center for Marine and Wetland Studies has received a $273,777 grant from Seismic Micro-Technology, a software company that specializes in geoscience technology, for the installation of highly advanced computer software that will enhance Coastal's marine research capabilities.

The new software will be used primarily to interpret seismic reflection imagery of the ocean's subfloor gathered by the Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The software will be available in 10 computer workstations in the Center's GIS (geographical information systems) computer lab.

"This grant will give us the latest and best tools to help us analyze the prodigious quantity of data that we gather through the Center's many ongoing research projects," said Paul Gayes, professor of marine science and geology at Coastal and director of the Center.

The seismic imagery software that Coastal will receive was first developed for the oil and gas industry, which shares many of the techniques used by Center scientists and students to study the geometry of rock strata deep underneath the sea floor. The software has powerful three-dimensional and computational capabilities that will allow scientists to visualize and model seismic data at the highest resolution, and it is expected to be very valuable as an instructional tool for students, according to German Ojeda, assistant director of the Center.

The Center, established in 1988 by the Horry County Higher Education Commission as the community outreach component of Coastal's College of Natural and Applied Sciences, conducts research that plays a critical role in the management of South Carolina's coastal environment.

The Center is a major participant in the South Carolina Coastal Erosion Project, a cooperative program led by the USGS and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, which has collected geophysical data offshore along the Grand Strand using state-of-the-art geophysical equipment over the last four years. In addition, data gathered by the Center have been of fundamental importance for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to understand the natural variability of reef-supporting habitats offshore the central and northern portions of the state.

The Center's marine research capabilities have been recognized far beyond the borders of the state. Last year, Center scientists, engineers and students were invited by the elite Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California to take part in a high-profile research project in Alaska's north slope investigating sea level and climate changes.

"This grant will help us build a strong marine geophysical program that will rival any on the East coast," said Ojeda.