780 AM | 96.1 FM 


(907) 443-5221

Seafloor mapping project begins with research vessels in Nome

The R/V Thunder research vessel docked at the Port of Nome.
The R/V Thunder research vessel docked at the Port of Nome. Photo by Ava White/KNOM

A plan to map the seafloor of the entire planet will see researchers operating out of Nome this summer and fall.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has contracted with a multi-national engineering firm to scan the seabed, looking at both water depth and topographic details.

Two research vessels, the R/V Thunder and R/V Norseman II will collect data 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week through September. Also, a pair of unmanned, automated research vessels will skim the surface to conduct research.

Dave Neff is a hydrographer with Woolpert, the company contracted to complete the research.

“It can do about 10 days, it has about a 10-day endurance,” Neff said. “It can be out there for 10 consecutive days, running a 24-hour operation, and it sleeps about 10 people on it.”

He says the mariners and scientific crew aboard the two ships will make regular calls on the Port of Nome.

“We will be coming in periodically from the work offshore to resupply the vessel and do crew changes,” Neff said. “Both of those vessels will be visiting the port periodically.”

Neff adds that the data collected will be in the public domain and available to more than just scientists.

“Fishing groups and commercial fishing groups, recreational boaters, the mining and minerals and resources groups that work out of that that area, this is in support of all stakeholders in that area,” Neff said.

According to Neff, regional hydrographic data was most recently collected in the 1930s. Ocean floor mapping dates to 1807 when President Thomas Jefferson created the U.S. Coast Survey Office.

The project will collect data across nearly 2,000 square nautical miles in Northern Norton Sound, which stretches from Golovin Bay through Nome to Cape Woolley on the western edge of the state. 

The contract between NOAA and Woolpert is valued at $7 million.

Image at top: The R/V Thunder research vessel docked at the Port of Nome. Photo by Ava White/KNOM

Did you enjoy this News story?

Consider supporting our work by becoming a one-time or recurring donor.

Share this story


Recent Posts

Open Comment Period Opens for Boulder Creek Uranium Property

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced an open comment period for the Boulder Creek property located north of Elim. The call for public comment will give proponents and opponents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the project before a decision on granting a permit is made. 

Read More »

Tony Matson Celebrates 40 Years with Bering Air

Employees stood scattered throughout the H1 hangar of Bering Air’s Nome headquarters. All eyes were on Tony Matson as he descended down a dark stairwell. Applause echoed against the walls of the large facility as it was announced that July 12, 2024 was Matson’s 40th anniversary with the regional airline. 

Read More »

Family, Friends Gather to Celebrate Life of Richard Beneville

Rain dribbled as family and friends of the late Mayor of Nome Richard Beneville gathered around a white cross bearing an inscription of his name and signature catch phrase “Hello Central!”. At the base of the cross purple velvet was draped over a freshly placed headstone.  Richard Beneville’s niece, Susan

Read More »

July 11: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Nome is off to by far the wettest start of any July

Read More »



Work for Us:




(907) 443-5221 


(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.