The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has released a report detailing a high-resolution geophysical and oceanographic survey of the entire Maryland Wind Energy Area. The survey, focused on opportunities for offshore wind development, is believed by MEA to be the first by any state to map the seafloor geology of a complete Wind Energy Area. This information is critical to optimizing the siting, design and layout of an offshore wind project.
MEA contracted with Coastal Planning & Engineering to pilot the Scarlett Isabella along lines set 150 feet apart, over 1,500 nautical miles. The team gathered data characterizing the depth, seafloor conditions and seabed geology, as well as looking for submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks.
MEA Director Abigail Ross Hopper said of the report launch, “MEA is excited to issue this groundbreaking report on our geophysical survey campaign. The data we are making available will reduce the risks and costs of offshore wind energy development, protect the marine environment, and contribute to our scientific understanding of the oceans off our coast.”
This report outlines the physical environment of the Wind Energy Area, including the composition of geological layers, the location and nature of hazards, and distribution of cultural resources. The project trained students at University of Maryland Eastern Shore to serve as federally certified Protected Species Observers on the mission, ensuring that marine mammals and other protected species were not impacted, while providing students with skills in high demand. Teams of scientists from University of Maryland Baltimore County deployed LIDAR, weather balloons and other tools to gather valuable data for refining power production and climate models of the Wind Energy Area.