The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR), situated in tropical northern Australia, incorporates extensive areas of carbonate banks and terraces. These are recognised by the Australian Government as potential biodiversity hotspots.
In September 2012, Geoscience Australia collected shallow seabed information to characterise the CMR and to better understand the carbonates banks and their role in supporting biodiversity.
The survey area is located on the widest part of the Continental Shelf (250 km) which is subject to a storm-influenced micro tidal energy regime (mean range: <2 m). However, the coast immediately to the south is macro-tidal (~7 m). The net tidal direction is westerly and the sediment transport regime is flood-dominated (Porter-Smith et al., 2004).
High-resolution mapping has revealed that the seafloor is characterised by multiple carbonate banks that rise tens of metres above otherwise vast soft-sediment plains.