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Research Technical Report

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Southern Monterey Bay Continental Shelf Investigations: Former Fort Ord Restricted Zone

Eittreim, S.L., editor (1997)

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 97-450. 113pp.


Fort Ord Army Base officially closed its doors in 1994. From 1917 to 1994 the 114 square kilometer tract on the coast of Monterey Bay was used as a U.S. Army training base and as staging area for troops in time of war. The Fort Ord Restricted Zone (FORZ) is an area extending about 7 km off the coast where access by civilian boaters was restricted. The stated purpose of the FORZ was to protect boaters from stray rifle and artillery fire that may have bypassed the coastal dunes that were used as backstops for target practice. In 1994 the FORZ was declared no longer in existence.

The plan for Fort Ord's conversion to civilian use has included extensive environmental cleanup operations onshore for spilled oil, lead bullets, ammunition shells, PCBs from transformers, and other materials that accumulated through the base's 70+ years of use (Harding Lawson Associates, 1995, Basewide Remedial Investigation/Feasability Study Fort Ord, California).

With the establishment of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) in 1992, a group of scientists assembled into a committee called the Research Activities Panel (RAP). RAP offers advice to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Office on scientific issues relating to stewardship of the Sanctuary. A spinoff group from RAP was concerned about possible seafloor hazards that may exist in the FORZ and they proposed a series of studies of the seafloor environment in and around the FORZ to come to a better understanding of "what is out there."

The result is the investigations in this report that deal with seafloor morphology and geology, toxicology of seafloor muds, and findings regarding some abnormal fish lesions that have been recovered in the FORZ area. We believe the investigations here are a good start at a detailed understanding of the seafloor environment of the southern Monterey Bay shelf seafloor. As with seafloor studies anywhere, one's definition of "detailed" is a subjective judgement of what is necessary for the job at hand, and for serious students of the seafloor the detail is never great enough; the detailed knowledge of the 1990s will likely be bypassed in the coming decades by better techniques and more surveys.

The work was funded through the offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Dan McMindes and David Eisen). Many scientists and administrators from Fort Ord (Gail Youngblood), Envirnomental Protection Agency (John Cheshnut, Robert Hall), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's MBNMS Office (Terry Jackson, Patrick Cotter, Andrew DeVogelaere, Aaron King), and Harding Lawson Associates (Ed Ticken) were involved in the planning stages of these studies. Thanks are due all the above for advice and patience through periods of funding uncertainties and with complex lines of communication. We would especially like to thank the Army for their generous and farsighted attitude in allowing studies to extend beyond the FORZ "box" to allow establishing context for the findings inside the FORZ.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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