As befitting the electronic age that has affected us all, this book was conceived in 1997 as a result of acquaintances forged completely over the Internet. At the time, the editors did not even know what the other looked or sounded like! We had both realised, from opposite sides of the Atlantic, and from our wanderings on the seashore, the oceans and the sea bed, that marine and coastal GIS applications were finally gaining wider acceptance in our respective communities. Equally importantly, an essential "critical mass" of leading scholars in both the marine and coastal realms was at last providing the necessary leadership and inspiration to help guide and further develop these closely-related application areas; while, at the same time, rapid take-up and evolution of the technology of GIS meant a rapidly-expanding user base for the results of this research.

The time seemed ripe to produce a book, particularly with the United Nations International Year of the Ocean (1998) fast approaching. As we spread word of our project across many an ocean, we were pleased to welcome an international authorship on board, a fortuitous mix of well-established oceanographers and GIS specialists with up-and-coming newcomers, many of whom will hopefully join the next generation of leading scholars.

From the start, the intention was to produce a book which focuses on the potential and progress of GIS research in the marine and coastal realms. It is not meant to be an introductory text in either marine/coastal science or in GIS. We hoped to include papers on a wide range of themes, bringing not only theoretical constructs to bear but also technical innovations and empirical results arising from recent and continuing work, all from a variety of scholarly settings and countries. We believe that we have succeeded in this, as evidenced by the three major parts of the book: the first section, on conceptual/technical issues, covers the most pressing theoretical challenges in marine and coastal GIS; the second, applications, takes the reader from microscale coastal habitats to marginal basins to seafloor spreading centers; while the third section, which we refer to as institutional issues, includes data and archiving policies, boundary delimitation, error and accuracy, and other like concerns. The chapters alternate topically between marine and coastal emphases, with a few of them (particularly in the conceptual section) addressing both marine and coastal issues.

We hope that the completeness and relevance of the book will be such that anyone with interests in marine/coastal environments as well as in GIS applications will find it useful. We anticipate that oceanographers, marine and coastal geographers, coastal resource managers and consultants, marine technologists, government researchers, and graduate students will find it particularly valuable.

Unlike so many other edited volumes, this book is not the result of a specialist meeting or conference. Again, most of the communications between editors and authors, between authors themselves, and with the publishers, were conducted over the Internet. Those involved have, nevertheless, felt some sense of camaraderie, and a few of our authors have prevailed despite the additional challenges of personal injury, life- threatening illness, surgery, and even the birth of a new baby girl! In addition to our authors we must thank the many organisations and individuals who have supported the idea of the book and contributed to it directly or indirectly in various ways (even though sometimes they were not aware they were doing so). In particular, we acknowledge with gratitude the support and encouragement of the Commission on Coastal Systems of the International Geographical Union and of the Working Group on Marine Cartography of the International Cartographic Association. At an individual level, René Andersen, Pieter Augustinus, Christophe Durand, Daniele Ehrlich, Gail Langran-Kucera, Nagendra Kumar, Nadia Ligdas, Gerry Maxwell, Jacques Populus, Norb Psuty, and Florence Wong. The epilogue benefited from the comments of Jim Ciarrocca and Jeannie Murday of the Environmental Systems Research Institute and Andy Wells of Erdas. We would also like to thank Luke Hacker and Tony Moore of Taylor & Francis for their great editorial assistance, and, of course, Jonathan Raper and Peter Fisher for believing in the book and accepting it into their series. In Oregon, Dawn Wright would like to thank her mother, Jeanne Wright, and her dog, Lydia, for their marvelous support and inspiration, as well as graduate students and colleagues in the Marine Resource Management Program and the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University. Darius Bartlett acknowledges with thanks the encouragement, support and intellectual stimulation provided by friends and colleagues in the Geography Department and the Coastal Resources Centre at University College Cork.

To our knowledge this book is the first of its kind to illustrate the broad usage of GIS in deep ocean and coastal environments. Our hope is that this book will inspire others to identify further potentials and challenges in marine and coastal GIS, thereby stimulating continued research in this important application domain of geographic information science.

Dawn J. Wright

Darius J. Bartlett