Oceanographic Instrumentation Center
NODC, the National Oceanographic Instrumentation Center was originally
a part of the Department of the Navy. Located in Washington, D.C.
the office was established to provide a central Federal service for
the calibration and testing of oceanographic instruments. The Instrumentation
Center collaborated closely with NODC and the National Bureau of Standards
to ensure adequate technique and reference standards for oceanographic
instrumentation. At the time of NOAA's creation, the Center was responsible
for a wide variety of oceanographic instrument development work including:
of an instrument evaluation laboratory;
of a central proposal and specifications file and information service;
programs with other Government agencies, academia and industry to
support the development of standards;
field testing and calibration of oceanographic instruments;
of instrument performance and deterioration records; and
- a small
in-house program of ocean instrumentation development.
Minerals Technology Center
the late fifties and sixties, scientists (both in industry and Government)
had begun to seriously investigate the possibility of funding ocean-based
alternatives to land-based sources of strategic minerals. Dry-land
deposits of such minerals were already showing signs of depletion.
Scientists were aware that the seafloor contained potentially recoverable
deposits of materials rich in such strategic minerals as nickel, cobalt,
copper, manganese, gold, tin, platinum, iron, titanium, and chromium.
Of particular interest at the time of NOAA's creation were deep seabed
deposits of manganese nodules which would, during the seventies and
eighties, become the center of substantial debate both in the U.S.
Congress and in the international Law of the Sea Treaty negotiations.
industry had already adapted land extraction techniques to develop
ocean minerals like oil, gas, sulfur, sand, and gravel valued at over
$2 billion. Industry was already, similarly, involved in commercial
dredging of oyster shells and the extraction of chemicals and salts
from sea water. Many of these activities, and the anticipated open
ocean mining associated with recovery of deposits like manganese nodules,
carried potentially significant environmental impacts (e. g.,
oil spills, sedimentation, and increased turbidity which could disrupt
of Interior had responded to the challenge of increased ocean mineral
development by establishing the Marine Minerals Technology Center
in Tiburon, California. The Center, part of the Bureau of Mines, had
two principal objectives:
that any ocean mining systems ultimately developed would minimize
damage to the marine environment; and
the tools and techniques required to accurately delineate marine mineral
time of NOAA's creation, the Center was already conducting a number
of cooperative programs with embryonic ocean mining industry groups
to evaluate a number of specific new mining techniques including new
drilling technologies. At the same time, the Center's marine resource
investigations were beginning to build the scientific and environmental
impact knowledge base on which future legislative and regulatory actions
would be based -- including the issuance of exploration licenses for
manganese nodule mining which has been a NOAA responsibility since
these rich, diverse and extensive capabilities now in place, this
new agency called NOAA was ready to address the challenges expressed
in President Nixon's reorganization statement including the exercise
of "leadership in developing a national oceanic and atmospheric program
of research and development."